Jonathan Poritsky

Review: Star Trek

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.

Review: Next Day Air

Next Day Air Still

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.

Review: Pineapple Express

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”.
Read on…

Review: Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony StarkI’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…

Review: I Am Legend

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. (in Independence Day for the uninitiated)In 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…