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Review: Star Trek Into Darkness, Song for Marion, Gambit, Spring Breakers and Maori Boy Genius

By Cinema and Reviews

The 2009 Star Trek reboot went into pro­duc­tion on the eve of the writers’ strike and there­fore had no right to be as enter­tain­ing – or to make as much sense – as it did. In fact, it was so suc­cess­ful that it has become the gold stand­ard of dormant fran­chise resus­cit­a­tion and I’m hop­ing that the les­sons – what to hon­our, what to ignore, the mix of know­ing humour and state-of-the-art action – are taken on board by the forth­com­ing Superman block­buster Man of Steel.

A re-watch of Star Trek on Wednesday night con­firmed my thoughts from the ori­gin­al review. It worked so well, on so many levels, that by the end I was eagerly anti­cip­at­ing my Friday night reunion with Christopher Pine’s Kirk, Zachary Quinto’s Hot Spock, etc. So, it is with a heavy heart then, that I have to report feel­ing let down by Star Trek Into Darkness. Everything seems a lot more self-conscious than before, as if the film­makers have just real­ised that there are a squil­lion people watch­ing and they’d bet­ter not make a mess of things. Which usu­ally means that’s exactly what happens.

Not long after the Federation has been saved in the first film, our her­oes are out explor­ing the galaxy, get­ting into trouble. As pun­ish­ment for viol­at­ing the Prime Directive (and incom­plete paper­work), Kirk is relived of the Enterprise com­mand but before he has time to prop­erly lick his wounds, a ter­ror­ist bombs Starfleet’s London office and threatens to kick off an inter­galactic (intra-galactic?) war with the Klingons.

dying is easy – com­edy is hard

It’s the exe­cu­tion that dis­ap­points this time around. The humour feels a bit heavy-handed, the attempts to incor­por­ate beloved ele­ments from the Original Series are clunky and the action is repet­it­ive – there are sev­er­al last second res­cues, for example, and at least two of them involve actu­al on-screen count­downs. I can­’t say more for fear of spoil­ers but – suf­fice to say – Star Trek Into Darkness is only a B minus while its pre­de­cessor mer­ited an A. Read More

2012 Wellington Cinema Year in Review

By Cinema

As usu­al, the vagar­ies of hol­i­day dead­lines mean that, just as you are arriv­ing back at work to glee­fully greet the New Year, here I am to tell you all about 2012. The best way to use this page is to clip it out, fold it up and put it in your pock­et ready for your next vis­it to the video shop – that way you won’t go wrong with your rent­ing. Trust me – I’m a professional.

But this year I have a prob­lem. Usually I man­age to restrict my annu­al picks to films that were com­mer­cially released to cinemas. I’ve always felt that it wasn’t fair to men­tion films that only screened in fest­ivals – it’s frus­trat­ing to be told about films that aren’t easy to see and it makes it dif­fi­cult for you to join in and share the love. This year, though, if I take out the festival-only films the great­ness is hard to spot among the only “good”.

As usu­al, I have eschewed a top ten in favour of my pat­en­ted cat­egor­ies: Keepers, Watch Again, Mentioned in Dispatches and Shun At All Costs. In 2012, only two of my nine Keepers (films I wish to have close to me forever) made it into com­mer­cial cinemas and one of them isn’t even really a film.

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