“Live long and prosper” is the least that one could say about the Star Trek franchise. Over four decades have passed since the first incarnation of Gene Roddenberry’s brainchild. The original series, known for it’s cheese and moral pomp, ran a mere three seasons, but nonetheless inspired eleven movies, five television series, countless books, toys, videogames and, above all, generations of space enthusaists and geeks. Daunting, then, is the task of re-introducing the classic characters onto the big screen. Thankfully, director and television impresario J.J. Abrams rises to the occasion to make Star Trek (it’s actually the first film to bear that name alone) not only a welcome addition, but an inspired thrill-ride which really kicks summer 2009 into gear.
Unlike some other 2009 blockbuster, screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have crafted a legitimate origin story for the franchise. The film opens with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock as children on their respective planets showing a distinct promise of greatness. Over the years, the Star Trek galaxy has become so vast that the characters within it seem to have shrunk in stature, considered more to be model citizens of the Federation than anything more. By focusing on the early years of these two shipmates, Mr. Abrams is emphasizing that Kirk, Spock and their cohorts are not the norm; they are extraordinary; they are superheroes. Continue reading at the candler blog.
Drugs, guns, vulgarity and rims are just the tip of the pigeonholed iceberg that is Benny Boom’s feature debut, Next Day Air; but what this little caper has that so many other films of a similar ilk lack is heart, and lots of it.
The improbable story follows ten bricks of cocaine from a formidable drug dealer in Calexico, California to his dispatcher in Philadelphia by way of an overnight delivery service, Next Day Air. Donald Faison, of Scrubs fame, plays Leo Jackson, a chronically stoned delivery man for the fictitious company, whose mind is so clouded on the job that he delivers the coke to apartment 302 instead of 303, setting events in motion. The drugs end up in the hands of fledgling criminals Guch, Brody and Hassie instead of the diminutive yet feisty Jesus, who prefers to be called “Gee-sus” rather than “Hay-zoos”. While Hassie is sleeping on the couch, as he is for the most of the film, Guch and Brody, played with an incredible balance of humor and charisma by Wood Harris and Mike Epps, respectively, hatch a plan to sell the dope to Brody’s cousin, Shavoo, before the rightful owners get wise to the mistake. Think of it like True Romance but without white people and set in Philly. Continue reading at the candler blog.
It had to happen sometime. As much as I had hoped to stave it off for as long as possible, the day had to come when I would leave a Judd Apatow production utterly dissatisfied. “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” nearly did me in, but further rumination on the film showed a real maturation happening in the cabal of dirty little boys that surround the Hollywood comedy magnate. Too bad that the progression toward a better kind of toilet humor didn’t make it’s way into the teams latest, and arguably most anticipated, “Pineapple Express”.
“I’m working on something big.”
The last thing you’d think the world needs is another comic book movie franchise, and yet Jon Favreau’s Iron Man breathes fresh air into an otherwise stale summer blockbuster season. It has all the staples of a big summer hit (star power; grade A special effects; built in rock anthem) but it does feel, even if only in the tiniest way, that something like the comic book genre in large part has been rethought, and not a moment too soon.
The summer of 2007, the most successful on record, was riddled with sequels that helped solidify the studios’ ridiculous haul to the bank. The powers that be knew there would be only one way to come close to making ludicrous amounts of money this summer with nary a threequel in sight: go back to the drawing board and start up great new franchises. Iron Man is the first taste we have of this new season of grass-roots heroism, and it is a scorcher of a first look. Read on…
It was little more than a decade ago that Will Smith danced his way atop a defeated alien spacecraft and announced his box office allure. “Welcome to Earth!” burst forth from his mouth after an interstellar sock in the jaw, and immediately, it was clear that this was the man with which boffo bliss could be made. (inÂ Independence DayÂ for the uninitiated)InÂ I Am Legend, we see a more mature, more finely attuned and more ripped actor than we have been watching in the ensuing years. The film begins and ends with Smith, and I don’t mean temporally. Francis Lawrence’s film has much going for it while remaining wrought with problems, but it is Mr. Smith’s impressive on-screen presence that makes it even watchable. In fact, anyone could have directed this film, and many were slated to before the experienced music video director finally took the reins, as this was really a vehicle pushed heavily by Mr. Smith along the way. We can see why he wanted to star in this film: because he’s just that damn good.In the film, Smith plays Robert Neville, the last man on earth after a deadly virus destroys everyone, leaving around a half billion infected and the few immune survivors, like Mr. Neville, who the infected all ate. Gruesome yes? Well at least he’s got man’s best friend with him. The story opens three years into this nightmare, following our hero as he hunts, eats, entertains himself, and makes it home before dark when the scaries make it out (they melt in the dark).Next to Mr. Smith’s phenomenal performance, the reason to see this film is the surreal post-apocalyptic imagery of New York City. There is a mixture of satisfaction and fear seeing what would become of the decaying Gotham three years out. The filmmakers’ recognize the jungle-like setup the city already possesses: streets are the rivers that flow through mountainous buildings. Once the laws that we have impressed upon this space have disappeared with humanity, we get to see alternative possibilities for such a monumental man-made heap of metropolis. Through the magic of boatloads of cash and some digital trickery, the audience is given a starkly accurate (there were a handful of PhDs and MDs in the credits) vision of the end of Manhattan if the end came a hair sooner than the Mayans are telling us it will. Read on…