Archives for posts with tag: J.J. Abrams

B+

A sci-fi/suspense/thriller that has so many twists and turns, it’ll keep you guessing at the truth all the way to the end.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays a woman who wakes up after a car accident only to find herself chained and cuffed to a pipe in a sparse room.  Her captor, creepily played by John Goodman, tells her that there was some kind of attack against the U.S., possibly by Russians, maybe terrorists, maybe Martians.  The air supposedly has been poisoned, and they would need to stay in his doomsday bunker for maybe a year or two for the poisons to dissipate.

Not being a moron, Winstead doubts what she is being told, and her face shows that she thinks she’s going to be a sex slave to this crazed, fat man, or worse, maybe she’s going to be in some type of “Saw” situation.  But then she meets another man — played by John Gallagher Jr. — who is also in the bunker.  Gallagher confirms to Winstead that he saw some type of flash in the air, and then he rushed to Goodman’s bunker and fought his way in so that he could survive.  But Winstead still has her doubts.  She has no idea who these two country boys are, and Goodman’s disturbing behavior — such as flipping out over the slightest thing — makes Winstead even more guarded.

Was there an attack that wiped out a good chunk of the U.S. and left the air poisoned?  Is Goodman lying so he can have a pretty woman stay in his bunker with his fat, creepy self?  Is Gallagher lying also, and possibly partners with Goodman to keep Winstead from leaving the bunker?

One thing Winstead will be sure of as time goes by: the threat inside the bunker is as dangerous as the real or imaginary threat outside.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Winstead and Gallagher look at a photo of a girl who is supposed to be Goodman’s daughter.  I’ll leave it at that.

My most memorable, movie moment of “10 Cloverfield Lane” is the scene at the end when Winstead sees absolute proof of what is really going on.  Again, I’ll leave it at that.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” is a much better movie than I had hoped for.  It has a heroine who is not your typical, damsel in distress — Winstead’s character is mentally tough and very resourceful.  The movie is unpredictable, the tension remains high for the majority of the story, and the acting is top notch.

Yes, Maximus, I was surprised to be so entertained by this movie.

— M

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J.J. Abrams is on a roll with his second “Star Trek” movie being as good as his first.  “Into Darkness” has Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock) Karl Urban (Bones), Simon Pegg (Scotty) and the whole crew of the USS Enterprise going up against the genetically engineered, physically and intellectually superior Khan, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.   That’s right, Abrams has tackled and rebooted the story of Khan’s uprising, and he does it very well.

Cumberbatch (I hope this actor’s parents invested in martial arts classes for him, because that name invites all sorts of ass kickings in school) masterminded an explosion  in a Federation building, and an assassination attempt on many of the high ranking members of Starfleet, making him #1 on the Federation’s most wanted list.   Sent to kill him is Pine and his Enterprise crew.  You heard that correctly.  Pine is ordered to find and kill Cumberbatch.  There’s lots of cloak and dagger stuff going on here…who is really the bad guy, who is telling the truth — and how much of it — and hidden agendas and goals.  There are many surprises here that will please and shock many of us “Star Trek” fans.

One such surprise is one of my memorable, movie moments of “…Into Darkness.”  That is the scene when Urban is genetically modifying a Tribble, which explains why Tribbles multiply like rabbits, or cockroaches, or your most hated ethnic group.

Another memorable, movie moment of this title is what happens to the Pike character.   I won’t go into details, but it was a shocker for me, as it completely goes against the timeline of the “Star Trek” stories that come after the Abrams movies.  But I recall in the first Abrams “Star Trek” movie (I could be wrong, because I’ve only seen that movie once, years ago) that the events of that first movie had altered the future of the characters.  So we better be prepared for other changes in the movies that are to follow.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Star Trek: Into Darkness” is the scene when Pine is explaining to Quinto why Pine violated the Prime Directive in order to save Quinto’s life.  It is something Pine had been trying to tell Quinto throughout the movie, but he is always interrupted; and Quinto always looks confused as to why Pine did what he did.  But in this scene, Quinto finally gets it, and tells Pine “because I am your friend.”  This exchange between the two is made more powerful because of the dire situation one of them is in.

Friendship.  The adventures we have with our friends, the good times and the bad, the sacrifices we make and are willing to make for the ones we care about.  This is what brought us to all the “Star Trek” movies and shows, and keeps us coming back for more.  And I will be back for another Abrams “Star Trek” movie should he make another, because Abrams gets it.

M

“Super 8” is about 2 children who have lost their mothers and are now dealing with emotionally absent fathers.   They take part in an independent, short movie with their friends; and during a night of filming (filming in the true sense of the word, as they are using Super 8mm film), they witness the crash of a U.S. Air Force train that unleashes some kind of creature.

Director J.J. Abrams, whose previous projects includes “Lost” and “Cloverfield,” is in familiar territory here.  “Super 8” is a blend of sci-fi/action/suspense/drama, with the focus on the characters and their relationships with each other.  Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney play the 2 children mentioned above.  Their performances are top-notch, especially Fanning’s.  I hope to see these two in more movies that showcase their talents instead of following the footsteps of so many child actors winding up in rehab, coked out of their minds and broke as hell.

Watching the young’uns make their movie in “Super 8″was a treat for me.   Using friends as the actors and crew, people doing multiple jobs, making use of whatever was at hand to make the movie, all the setbacks…it took me back to when I was in my 20s and 30s making indie, guerrilla flicks.  Fun and stressful times; and there were moments when I wanted to punch the eyeballs out of some of the actors.   Those were experiences I’ll never forget.

Abrams started out making short movies when he was a kid.  And from that humble beginning, he has created — among many things — this movie about loss, forgiveness, reconnection and love.  For those looking for a straight up, creature feature, this isn’t for you. This movie reminds me of “E.T.”  Only instead of eating Reese’s Pieces, he wound up in a locker of an NFL player and ate bottles of Human Growth Hormone and steroids.

“Super 8” does have a big B.S. moment, unfortunately.  Okay, the USAF train was derailed due to a scientist driving his pickup truck on the rails going toward the train.   Train and pickup collide in a spectacularly loud fashion, complete with explosions.  And the scientist…is still in his truck…in one piece…and alive.   Abrams, dude, what the hell!  Now, I know why Abrams let the scientist live: so that he can give the kids who were making their movie nearby information as to what was happening, and therefore let the audience know what’s going on.  So you think the scientist dude would die after that, right?  No!  He lives!  What the hell!  If you crashed your pickup head on against a speeding train, CSI would be picking up your testicles in the next town!

Anyway.  One memorable, movie moment deals with a deputy who wants to know answers from the commanding officer of the Air Force guys who are all over his small town.   Deputy Dumbass shows his cards and says he has info on what is happening, and he’s willing to talk to Washington about the situation.  Air Force dude says he’ll tell Deputy Dumbass what he wants to know, but only at a place he designates.  Okaaay.  Sounds fishy, right?  Not to Deputy Dumbass, because in the second scene, Deputy Dumbass goes to the designated place and he is quickly surrounded by Air Force guys pointing their M-16 rifles at him.  I’d like to say Deputy Dumbass was given an anal probe and dissected to see why he is so stupid, but I can’t because nothing of the sort happened.

My most memorable, movie moment takes place during the end credits.  No, no, I’m not being a smartass here!   Remember when I said a bunch of kids were making a short, Super 8mm movie in this movie?  Well, their entire work is shown during the first half of the end credits.  Oh, that really took me back a few decades!  I was diggin’ it, man!  The joys of creating a movie.  Creating art.

M

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