Tag Archives: Zachary Quinto

Star Trek Beyond

Just another day in Starfleet.”

A few years have passed since Paramount and JJ Abrams tried to convince us that Benedict Cumberbatch wasn’t really Khan. Even non-Trek fans like myself walked out after trekking Into Darkness to a resounding “meh” and a muscle-pulling shrug of the shoulders. So, I guess that makes it time for yet more Star Trek… Goodness?

Out is Abrams – off making star films of the Wars variety – and in is Justin Lin, the man behind four of the Fast and Furious films. Hoping to inject a little something different into this franchise and hopefully make fans forget about the travesty that that was the bastardisation of The Wrath of Khan back in 2013.

Sent into uncharted space on a routine rescue mission, Captain Kirk and his crew cross paths with a mysterious ship that chooses to respond to their calls with hostility and sets about attacking the Enterprise. Making light work of the Federation ship, the hostile race forces the captain and the crew that haven’t been taken prisoner by the unknown foe to abandon the Enterprise to crash land on a nearby planet.

Spread across the rocky landscape of the planet, Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Dr. “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) must brave the odds and rescue their crew from their maniacal hostage taker, the leader of an old race that live underground, known as Krall (Idris Elba in some very heavy makeup). With a little help from mysterious warrior Jaylah (Kingsman‘s Sofia Boutella), the last of her race, stranded on the planet by Krall and his murderous race, the survivors have little time to release the prisoners, escape the planet and find a way to stop Krall and his plans to destroy the galaxy.

Here’s the thing with Beyond – or in fact any of the Star Trek films whether they be originals or from the rebooted now trilogy – they are safe films. For fear of pissing off a massive fan base, they’ll never do anything groundbreaking to the franchise. I mean, they couldn’t even kill Kirk properly in the last bloody film could they? In an effort to keep the rabid fanbase appeased, there will never be something done that they can’t come back from and while I did quite enjoy my time with the latest in the sci-fi series to clearly be missing a colon in its title, it meant that even the opening salvo of destruction had very little in the way of peril in it.

It did look good though. The annihilation of the Enterprise by Krall’s “Bees” like a hot knife through butter looked amazing and was a solid fifteen minutes of beautiful destruction. But the franchise has gotten to a stage where it feels a lot like the episodes everyone used to watch and rave about. Once the world famous ship has crashed landed, it’s very run-of-the-mill and definitely more about the characters than the set pieces. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that at all – my favourite films his year have had almost no action and been all exposition – but the third film in this rebooted franchise should feel comfortable enough to keep bringing the action and maybe hold back a little with the fanboy callbacks. When there are set pieces, though, it’s generally pretty good. Action is competent, combat is thrilling and the camaraderie between long-standing characters during these moments is always fun to watch.

The characters are definitely what makes this film – and the previous entries in this reimagined franchise – worth sticking with. I’ve enjoyed watching the relationship build between Chris Pine’s James Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock as the pair are put in these impossible situations that does nothing but strengthen their friendship.

The same can be said for Spock and Karl Urban’s Leonard McCoy; who I honestly think steals the show in each of the films with his neurotic insanity and paranoia. Urban brings such a wealth of character and comedy to the doctor that you can’t help but love him.

As you can imagine, Idris Elba is very cool as the bad guy and fits the maniacal monster perfectly. Like a great bad guy in an episode of the show though, you always wish for a little more screen time that just doesn’t happen, and it’s a real shame.

Some bizarre choices made by the creative team all the way through do hinder the film a little though. Ok, it hinders the film a lot. The script may be the poorest of the trilogy with some achingly bad dialogue and a real lack of effort in parts. One glaringly obvious and just awful moment hits you towards the end when Elba’s Krall spots Kirk in the heat of a massive dogfight and utters “Kirk, my old friend.” Even though the characters have never met before the film and they spent around eleven seconds in each others company up to that point. By those standards, everyone I spoke to getting my Starbucks on the way in to see this film should be getting an invite to my wedding! It’s moments like that, that take this film down a notch or two to just another average flick.

Briefly, because I haven’t really mentioned these thing in reviews, podcasts, or even in my usual rants on social media. A couple of things I want to touch upon:

First, I love the way the death of legend Leonard Nimoy is handled; with grace and respect. He’s given a send off worthy of a man who played such a classic role. Bravo.

Second, the gay Sulu thing. I love it. I think it’s about time a franchise of this magnitude embraced the times and making Sulu the focus of these attentions is great. In my humble opinion, of course. I don’t buy the “Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t have wanted it” shit. The man famously gave us a black woman front and centre in a time that it wasn’t done. I believe he would have done the exact same thing for the gay community. Bravo, again.

And finally, while he doesn’t have much screen time, it’s achingly sad to see Anton Yelchin up on that screen. His dedication at the end of the film, along with Nimoy’s, was lovely.

Anyways, to wrap up. Dodgy scripting, some ghastly CGI, especially around a certain motorbike scene that made me cringe and massive sections of plot and continuity ignored, made for frustrating viewing at times. That’s not to say it’s unwatchable, but overall Star Trek Beyond is on a par with the previous entries in the series. You already know what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t expect the world to change with this flick.

Hitman: Agent 47

After running through his five favourite and least-favourite video game adaptations recently, Andrew Brooker returns to let us know why Hitman: Agent 47 is not the film he expected.

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

hitman“Don’t put your faith in me.  You’ll be disappointed.”

In a weird way, I’m a little disappointed. I’m disappointed that Hitman: Agent 47 wasn’t the steaming pile of dog shit I went in expecting after reading a few reviews. I’m disappointed that I don’t get to lose my nut at how offensive the film is to the game it takes its inspiration from and the gamers it’s trying to court into cinemas to see it. But most of all, I’m disappointed that the latest attempt to bring Agent 47 to the big screen is so forgettable as a film that I simply can’t be bothered to gather up the energy to get annoyed at it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not stupid. I know that a game series primarily about sneaking yourself into a place, killing some unknown dude and sneaking out again unseen would make for a fairly boring film. Clearly the paint-by-numbers guys at 20th Century Fox feel the same because while there are flashes of the game series’ great style, Hitman: Agent 47 is absolutely more about the smash, bang and wallop of car chases and explosions than it is about stealthily poisoning some poor, unsuspecting villain without anyone ever knowing you were there.  But almost to its credit, the film doesn’t go down the “everything has gone wrong, now the super-sneaky ninja dude has to go loud” route (see 2007’s Hitman and almost every killer-for-hire gets revenge movie). Instead just settling for trying to convince us that this is just how the game is played. It’s not.

The story, for want of a better word for the thing that keeps us going from one elaborate death scene to another, focuses on Katia (Boss’ Hannah Ware), the daughter of the geneticist who is singlehandedly responsible for the creation of the mythical “Agent” program; a bit of 1960’s jiggery-pokery that changed the DNA of unborn children and making them stronger, faster, tougher and smarter than average people.  It’s absolutely nothing to do with Dark Angel, the sci-fi TV show that came out the same year as the first Hitman that also featured barcoded super-soldier protagonists.

On the run for most of her life, Katia is now being hunted by not one, but two different organisations. Mr 47’s ICA – strangely not mentioned by name in the film, just by their iconic logo – and the imaginatively named Syndicate International. The latter have sent their own contractor, John Smith, to do their dirty work.  A man who is the result of their experiments to try and recreate the Agent program and has a few secrets (or not, if you’ve seen the bloody spoiler-filled trailer) of his own to help him along the way.

John Smith; in maybe the most bizarre casting choice this year with Star Trek‘s Zachary Quinto; doesn’t rescue Katia as much as he does capture her so he can locate her father.  Ripped from Syndicate International’s grasp by Rupert Friend’s Agent 47 (replacing the late Paul Walker early into the film’s production) and having her world turned upside down as he explains who she is, what her father’s work really involved and maybe most importantly, what he did to her when she was young. Experimenting with altering her DNA to make her survival instincts second to none, turning her into the hyper-sensitive paranoid mess that’s kept her alive and free all this time, he’s made her an Agent.

And so begins a cat and mouse chase across the world as the pair of assassins try to outrun Smith and his Syndicate henchmen. All while racing to get to Katia’s father before the massive organisation can torture the secrets of the Agent’s DNA out of him and create a super-soldier army of nigh-unbeatable hitmen.

Hitman: Agent 47‘s biggest problem comes in its attempt to imitate one of the greatest stealth games ever made.  A game that I have, on more than one occasion, wasted more than the length of the film in trying to get past one kill, or get around one group of guards that I don’t want to face head on.  It’s ironic that the parts of the movie that remind me the most of the games; an exceptionally hostile area that 47 and Katia must navigate without being noticed is a great example; are the parts that while enjoyable, are the most infuriating parts to watch as a fan of the franchise. The tension, the trial and error nature of an area like this is what makes the games so great.  But on the big screen, while the feel of the games is there and those of us that have successfully steered their way through scenarios like them will be smiling in recognition by the end of it, it’s just all too… easy.  Every costume change, every time the light shines off of 47’s garrotte, the film got a brief smile from me but it was quickly wiped from my face when the action was ramped up and suddenly I’m watching a game of Audi vs. motorbikes.

As an action film, Agent 47 is relatively competent. It could do with its pacing being tightened up a little but it certainly delivers in all the areas that you would expect it to. Action scenes are visceral and violent, with enough gruesome deaths to fill a Saw reboot and decent enough hand and gun action. Hitman certainly delivers the fun, loud parts of the wannabe franchise starter in spades and doesn’t shy away from putting a bit of blood on the screen.  A little twisty and turny, the story does an alright job of keeping these scenes together and in check and while obvious to most, the surprise twist of the end was still a decent nod to the effort some of us have put into just getting one clean kill in the film’s inspirational video game franchise.

Hitman: Agent 47 gets a sly recommendation from me, if you want to switch your brain off and watch a poor man’s Transporter for a couple of hours you could do worse. But if you’re going in with hopes of a faithful recreation of an iconic stealth death simulator, I’m afraid we’re now hanging our hopes on Michael Fassbender and next year’s Assassin’s Creed movie. Considering the amount of effort that went into turning the story into a Hitman film, that effort would have been far better spent writing an original story to tie to kills together, keeping it away from the judgemental eyes of gamers everywhere and perhaps starting a franchise of the strength of the film, and not its inspiration’s name.  Because this, my friends, is not Hitman.

Failed Critics Podcast: Star Trek Into Darkness

star trek into darknessIt’s that time of year where the big blockbusters come thick and fast, and this week the Failed Critics are putting on our red shirts, setting our phasers to stun, and splitting any and all infinitives we can find as we embrace Star Trek Into Darkness.

As well as reviewing JJ Abrams’ latest installment of the epic sci-fi franchise (including a suitable lengthy Spoiler Alert), we also have time for reviews of Pedro Almodovar’s latest release ‘I’m So Excited’, giallo homage ‘Berbarian Sound Studio’, and impossibly hot couple Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in ‘Love & Other Drugs’.

Next week we’re reviewing our second Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson release this summer, with the latest in the seemingly unsinkable Fast and the Furious franchise.