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MOVIE REVIEW- STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Might Be The Best In The Series, With One Of the Great Villain Performances In Years

J.J. Abram’s follow up to the 2009 reboot, is the perfect blend of action and drama, thanks to Abram’s smart direction, a mysterious villain and all-star performances from Pine, Cumberbatch, Quinto, and Urban. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS may not boldly go where no one has ever gone before, but it is both bold and beautiful.

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STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Director- J.J. Abrams

Starring- Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Bruce Greenwood, Alice Eve, Anton Yelchin and Peter Weller

Steven’s Quick Review– J.J. Abrams’ follow up to the 2009 reboot is the perfect blend of action and drama. Thanks to the director’s perfect vision, a mysterious villain, and all-star performances from Pine, Cumberbatch, Quinto, and  Urban. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS may not boldly go where no one has  gone before, but it’s a bold and beautiful new entry into Trek lore and one to be remembered.

Steven’s Review-Attempting to follow up 2009’s STAR TREK reboot was a fairly difficult task for J.J. Abrams. He had created a new wrinkle in the STAR TREK universe and needed a villain to top Eric Bana’s Nero. We needed the slick plot of the first one with new adventures for James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and the gang.

In STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Abrams and company succeeded in creating a new story line with just as much action, and a number of twists and turns along the way. One of the smarter moves the filmmakers made is not identifying the villain, (We will refer to him as John Harrison.)  Harrison is played with menace and gusto by one of the finest British actors around today, Benedict Cumberbatch (WAR HORSE, BBC’s “Sherlock”). Cumberbatch, who has become one of the most popular British actors in American cinema these days, gives one of his finer performances as the mysterious and incredible hostile trek villain whose big reveal will get all sorts of Trek fans trembling. Cumberbatch gives one of the best performances as a villain in some time, a layered and vengeful turn.

Along with Cumberbatch, who is a newcomer to the STAR TREK series, is a very well assembled ensemble of actors that includes Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban and Simon Pegg. The cast propels the first half of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, especially the relationship between Kirk(Pine), Spock(Quinto), and McCoy(Urban). All three actors have an excellent rapport, which grows considerably throughout the film. (No small task considering film scenes are generally shot out of sequence.) INTO DARKNESS, in its opening moments, is about the conflict between Kirk and the logical Spock, skillfully played by Zachary Quinto.  An important factor in the previous TREK films was the relationship between the cocky Kirk, the logical Spock and the Sarcastic McCoy – and in this film that dichotomy is put front and center. As for supporting cast, Simon Pegg gives another excellent, scene stealing performance as Scotty, the engineer for the Enterprise. Pegg is spot-on with his comedic timing, and amazes with his perfect impression of the fan favorite from the original set of films. Pegg is not the only one who gets an opportunity to steal scenes. Along with Urban, and Pegg, John Cho (playing Sulu) and Zoe Saldana (playing the Spock love interest, the bad ass Uhura) have only improved upon their characters from the first film.

Abrams has indeed compiled an epic cast and crew for his second and potentially final installment in the STAR TREK series.  A number of new cast members join the fray, including Alice Eve (MEN IN BLACK 3, THE RAVEN), and Peter Weller (“Dexter”, “24”). Weller and Eve play important members of INTO DARKNESS, as Weller is a Star Fleet commander who sends Kirk on a mission of finding John Harrison. Eve plays a new addition to the Enterprise crew who seems to have some questionable reasons for boarding the ship, and maybe a questionable relationship to the Enterprise’s new found antagonist.

TREK begins well after the original ends, with Kirk as the captain of the enterprise and the crew on missions to discover and save new worlds. Yet Kirk and Spock still seem to butt heads, which leads to Spock costing his friend the captain’s chair.  Thanks to acts of terrorism by Cumberbatch, Kirk spirals on to a vengeful mission to find Harrison and bring him to justice. Without giving any spoilers to the events that follow, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is a well-oiled machine of a summer blockbuster. It is both funny and extremely intense in a way that keeps fans guessing.  I thoroughly enjoyed STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS; it’s good, old fashioned summer movie magic at its finest and could end up being one of the best summer movies of 2013.

Thanks in large part to its awesome direction and near perfect performances from Pine, Quinto, Cumberbatch, and Urban.  With a quality supporting cast, an excellent script penned by Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci (TRANSFORMERS, “Hawaii Five-O”) and Alex Kurtzman(TRANSFORMERS, “Fringe”), STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is an epic sci-fi film that should not be missed.

 

Entertainment

REVIEW: “Sing Street” Will Put a Song in Your Heart… and Your iPod

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“I have just seen an instant classic.”

That’s what I said to myself as I left the theater, with the music and adrenaline of “Sing Street” still coursing through my veins.

It’s the kind of movie you want to turn around and see again, immediately. Right after you download the soundtrack. Yes, it’s that good.

Haven’t heard anything about it? I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t have known about this film either, except that my Regal Crown Club card finally paid off in the form of free tickets to an advanced screening. (Never mind the $25 popcorn.) Anyway, let’s watch!

Hooked yet? You will be.

Irish writer/director John Carney (“Once,” “Begin Again”) has conjured a nearly perfect coming-of-age tale set in 1980s Dublin. Think “The Commitments meets “Sixteen Candles meets “Footloose,” but all in one glorious package that manages to be both fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Drawing from his own teenage years at the real Synge Street school, Carney avoids the trap of creating a pure fluff piece by infusing the story with real heart.

A large part of that is due to the breakout talent and hero of Sing Street,” 16-year-old Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. As “Connor Lalor” navigates the tricky currents of a new school, family drama, and first love, Walsh-Peelo is heartbreakingly earnest, predictably awkward, and unexpectedly optimistic. Everything about his performance rings true. No small feat, considering that this is his acting debut.

Thanks to Carney’s non-actor, open casting approach, Walsh-Peelo is also joined by some equally promising new faces. Lucy Boynton is luminous as his love interest, “Raphina,” and Mark McKenna is quietly compelling as Conor’s songwriting partner, “Eamon.”

One of the most satisfying pairings, though, is anchored by the more experienced Jack Reynor (“Transformers:Age of Extinction”).  He shines as Conor’s older brother, “Brendan.”  Dealing with the angst of his own stalled dreams, Brendan tackles his brotherly mentoring role with gusto. Conor soaks up the advice like a ruddy-cheeked sponge, then begins to find his own way as his confidence grows.  Rarely do we see the underlying affection between two brothers played so simply and honestly,  so the relationship between Conor and Brendan is a lovely surprise.

The other undeniable star of “Sing Street” is the music.  While the story could have easily been told with the band only performing covers of ’80s hits,  Carney had a bigger vision for the film.  He collaborated with Scottish songwriter Gary Clark to craft 8 original tunes that not only add layers of light and shade to the storyline, but could be stand-alone chart toppers today.  From the gleefully retro “The Riddle of the Model,” to the Cure-tastic “Beautiful Sea,”  to the EMO ballad “To Find You,”  there’s something for everyone. Welcome to your summer soundtrack, people.

There are few darker notes to the plot, and the ending feels slightly of place, but in general “Sing Street” will leave you feeling as light and fizzy as a packet of Pop Rocks.

The movie poster reads: “Boy Meets Girl. Girl Unimpressed. Boy Starts Band.”  That’s it in a nutshell, of course, but happily, this film is so much more.

SING STREET opens in New York April 15th, and is in theaters nationwide on April 29th.

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrate The Fourth With Our Picks For Great American Movies!

What makes a film distinctly American? Sometimes it recollects the spirit of our patriotism, and other times it is so iconic and popular that it defines an entire generation of our culture. Here are our picks for some great American movies! Why not celebrate your Independence Day holiday by popping up some popcorn and enjoying one?

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What makes a film distinctly American? Sometimes it recollects the spirit of our patriotism, and other times it is so iconic and popular that it defines an entire generation of our culture. Here are our picks for some great American movies! Why not celebrate your Independence Day holiday by popping up some popcorn and enjoying one?

It’s impossible to list them all… this is just a handfull! Scroll down and tell us what your favorites are!!!

Let’s start at the beginning!

Do you have what it takes to watch a black and white classic? (Don’t break my heart by replying if the answer is no.) Yankee Doodle Dandy is a 1942 classic starring James Cagney – telling the story of the great entertainer George M Cohan. He’s the man behind the songs “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”  A true classic with distinctly American music and showmanship. Watch the trailer!

There’s something about the fifties and sixties that still plucks at the nostalgic heartstrings of America. And yet, two of the most iconic movies about that period were actually shot decades later, with a heartfelt look back at those times.

Both American Graffiti and Grease come to mind. While American Graffiti can take bragging rights for bringing us more breakout stars, (and being written and directed by George Lucas), Grease seems to enjoy more clout as a family friendly favorite.

1986 was a  good year for Tom Cruise, and a good year for movies. Top Gun starred Tom Cruise stars as a student at Top Gun Naval Academy. It sparked a sense of patriotism, and the continued ascent of Cruise’s career. (If you’re watching with your kids, you might wanna skip ahead once you start hearing the song “Take My Breath Away.” Love scene ahead! Still, some might argue it’s pretty tame by today’s standards.)

Forrest Gump (1994) proved not only to be an excellent movie, but also an impromptu history lesson.
The story follows an unlikely hero (played by Tom Hanks) as he journeys through life, finding himself witnessing (and sometimes even influencing) a series of historic events, but is largely unaware of their significance. A true classic.

Before the luster of Mel Gibson had worn off, he portrayed Benjamin Martin, a man who becomes embroiled in the Revolutionary War. The late Heath Ledger plays his son, who fights in the Continental Army.

The most recent of patriotic classics is 2012’s Lincoln. Daniel Day Lewis delivers a flawless performance as our 16th President under the directorial brilliance of Steven Spielberg. A new classic for the ages.

SHARE YOU PICKS BELOW! AND TWEET YOUR FAVORITES TOO!

For more movies updates, follow @BrianBalthazar on twitter!

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Movie Reviews

MOVIE REVIEW- WORLD WAR Z Is a Messy, Relentless Zombie Horror Flick That Really Works

Check Out Steven’s review for one of the biggest surprises of 2013, the epic zombie flick WORLD WAR Z.

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world-war-z-posterWORLD WAR Z

Paramount Pictures

Director- Marc Forster

Starring-Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale. Abigail Hargrove, Sterling Jerins, David Morse, David Andrews.

Steven’s Quick Review- Yes its production was messy, but WORLD WAR Z might be the biggest surprise of the summer movies in 2013. Thanks to relentless action, a number of good scares, and an on-target performance from Brad Pitt, WORLD WAR Z is an excellent zombie film. Even though it is barely based on its source material, Damon Lindelof’s rewritten third act will keep audiences guessing and add some scares to your summer movie slate.

Steven’s Review- Brad Pitt has become the kind of actor who now only does movies he truly wants to do, and only takes roles that challenge him. So when Pitt and his Plan B studios initially won the rights to Max Brooks bestselling novel WORLD WAR Z the options were endless. Yet from the start of production the movie had issues, between the initial script lacking invention, a director in Marc Forster (QUANTUM OF SOLACE) who was found it difficult to make important decisions and the very public spat between Pitt and Forster that nearly sidelined the film indefinitely.  There were also the on-set issues, besides the arguments between the actor and director, there were problems on set in Hungary when government officials stormed the set and removed live weapons. Also, forced re-shoots that moved WWZ from a winter release to a summer tentpole. It’s easy to assume WORLD WAR Z was doomed from the start. But something happened along the way, something that shocked plenty during our screening of the film in May. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Pitt, Forster, and crew actually made a darn good zombie flick. With help from Damon Lindelof (“Lost”, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) who came to the rescue and reworked an ending  after the studio deemed the initial conclusion was not good enough for release.  Following Lindelof’s changes and a massive marketing campaign Brad Pitt’s newest pet project was ready to show the world.

WORLD WAR Z the book takes place in a post zombie war setting, when a journalist and U.N investigator goes all over the globe talking to survivors and getting their stories.  The film adaptation written by Drew Goddard (CABIN IN THE WOODS), Matthew Michael Carnahan (STATE OF PLAY), J. Michael Straczynski (THOR) and Damon Lindelof  has little to nothing to do with Brooks acclaimed novel. We begin meeting Gerry Lane(Pitt) , a former UN investigator who lives with his family somewhere outside Philadelphia.  Within 5 minutes of the opening credits, we are thrown into a full on zombie invasion, with riots in super markets and speedy zombies chasing people down. WWZ Starts off with a bang. Gerry’s wife Karin(“The Killings” Mireille Enos), and his daughters Constance(Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) desperately leave the city and head towards New York, finding themselves in the streets of  Newark, New Jersey where they pick up supplies and await a helicopter pick-up thanks to Gerry’s old friends at the United Nations.

WORLD WAR Z is in no way a perfect movie; every now and then it finds itself deep into horror cliché, only to drag itself out with one big sequence after another. Pitt carries the film as he finds himself in worse situations every moment, but without being totally indestructible (meaning as an audience you never quite know whether Gerry Lane will make it out alive). Pitt’s performance feels dressed in reality, while he searches the globe for reasons why this zombie apocalypse is happening, worries for his safety and hopes to return to his family.

WORLD WAR Z is a suspenseful zombie flick that contains a few scares, but has the advantage of almost never slowing down.  The filmmakers found a way to protray a lot of violence and still receive a PG-13 rating – they show you enough death and destruction without maimed bodies and severed limbs. I enjoyed the fast paced nature of WWZ and the fact it never drags, it allows characters to develop and story to move forward without forsaking the zombie action fan in all of us.

As far as adaptations go, WORLD WAR Z could be considered one of the worst, it barely contains any connection to Max Brooks brilliant novel, other than a few characters names and one or two plot points. As far as summer surprises, WORLD WAR Z is a welcome break from comedies and super hero flicks that take up most of our time. But the pressure is on: it needs to bring in $500 million dollars to turn a profit for everyone involved. I enjoyed WORLD WAR Z and hope they can find a way to make some cash, so we can get more zombie action just like it.

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