Review of the week
Film: STAR TREK BEYOND
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella.
Director: Justin Lin
Reviewer: Peter Feldman
Justin Lin, who made his name with the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, takes up the reins from J.J. Abrams in this energy-driven rebooting of ‘Star Trek’.
The end result is it’s too loud, too long and too technical – but trekkies will likely love it nonetheless.
Millions of trekkies around the world will discover a world of nostalgia as director Lin takes them on a journey that boasts some of the most spectacular set pieces ever conceived in the series. It boggles the mind and watching it on the giant IMAX screen at Ster-Kinekor’s new Mall of Africa cinema in Midrand, one becomes entrapped by the whole visual experience.
‘Star Trek Beyond’ deals with the Enterprise landing in the wilderness of a foreign planet after being cut in two by a swarm of metallic space “bees”. The swirling bees are controlled by Krall (Idris Elba), a dictator with the scaly face of a lizard and the voice of a warlord. He has an attitude to match.
His energy emanates by literally sucking the life out of people, and he’s out to capture an artifact that was on board the Enterprise, an ancient clicking device that he desires in order to take control of the planets of the federation.
Meanwhile, the crew of the Enterprise, now dispersed on the planet, is trying to regroup. They desperately need to come up with a feasible plan of action to combat Krall’s aspirations.
Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) provides a diversion by riding a chopper around Krall’s woodland headquarters. Then a leonine alien named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), with her black-etched-on-white face (which seems to be a cosmetic trend that may catch on with fashionistas), engages in hand-to-hand combat with Krall.
On this inhospitable planet we also reunite with other familiar characters who have arrived on the planet in separate pods after the destruction of the Enterprise. They are Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) who bond through their antipathy. Scotty (Simon Pegg) tries to make a connection with the forceful Jaylah, who refers to him as “Montgomery Scotty” while the late Anton Yelchin is commanding as the brainy Russian Chekov.
The film is at its best when the characters work as a team, but this only occurs midway through and when the revs are notched up.
Overall, ‘Star Trek Beyond’ is a robust slice of filmmaking which attempts to revive the spirit of the early TV series. However, this version fails because it doesn’t break new ground. It covers a familiar no-mystery structure in which there is plenty of action to be seen, but lacks exploring new frontiers. It comes across as a more serious, though less exciting escapade and for large stretches of the action a repetitive motif emerges that becomes a relatively boring exercise in its visual dexterity.
Director Lin may have orchestrated visually enthralling set-pieces, but everything else about the film is easily forgettable and instead of advancing the “Trek” cosmology it keeps it relatively stagnant.
In the end, though, one fervently hopes that the next ‘Star Trek’ escapade will have what it takes to go where no other ‘Star Trek’ film has gone before. And it takes a brave man to do this!
FILM: NINE LIVES
CAST: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Malina Weissman, Cheryl Hines, Christopher Walken, Mark Consuelos, Robbie Amell
DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfield
Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is undeniably successful, impossibly wealthy, and an unapologetic jerk. Striving to build the tallest skyscraper in the Northern Hemisphere, the daredevil billionaire will sacrifice anything — even the love of his family — to complete an architectural marvel nearly as gargantuan as his ego.
Tom’s workaholic lifestyle has alienated his long-suffering family, including his devoted wife Lara (Jennifer Garner), neglected adult son David (Robbie Amell) and starved-for-attention young daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman). When Rebecca’s 11th birthday arrives, the girl begs her father for the same present she asks for every year: a cat. Tom hates cats, but reluctantly finds himself in a magical pet shop owned by the quirky Felix Perkins (Christopher Walken). The peculiar proprietor knows exactly what Brand needs — and its name is Mr. Fuzzypants.
After suffering a fateful accident on the way to Rebecca’s birthday party, a horrified Tom discovers that while his human form is lying comatose in a hospital bed, he is watching events unfold from inside the body of the cat.
Trapped inside Mr. Fuzzypants and trying desperately to make his loved ones aware of his situation, he soon realizes that if he is ever to earn back his human existence, he must reconnect with his family and become the husband and father they deserve.
One of the world’s most respected actors, Kevin Spacey has won acclaim on the stage and screen over the last few decades, and currently rules over the streaming television landscape as Machiavellian US President Frank Underwood in Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’. But in addition to those dramatic roles, the New Jersey-born actor has displayed his comedic skills in films as diverse as the Richard Pryor-Gene Wilder vehicle ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’; Ted Demme’s ‘The Ref’ and the ‘Horrible Bosses’ movies. So when the ‘Nine Lives’ script crossed his desk, he decided the time to get silly again was, well, right meow.
“Barry Sonnenfeld has done some of the great films of all time, no doubt about it,” says Spacey. “So when he came onto this project, I was enormously excited.”
According to Sonnenfeld, Spacey’s unique qualities made him ideal for the duality of the role — first playing an insensitive human, then voicing the same person transplanted into a cat’s body. “Kevin is perfect for the role because he’s smart, funny, sarcastic, and can portray very warm or very cold,” says the director. “Kevin’s voice is also perfect for this because it’s recognizable, it’s droll, it can be sardonic — it’s all the things you want for the voiceover.”
FILM: DIS KOUE KOS, SKAT
CAST: Anna Mart Van der Merwe, Deon Lotz, Frank Opperman, Elzabe Zietsman, Angelique Gerber, Deanre Reiners
DIRECTOR: Etienne Fourie
‘Dis Koue Kos, Skat’, based on the novel by Marita van der Vyver, is a story about betrayal, jealousy, the importance of family, starting over and ultimately revenge.
When Clara Brand (Anna Mart Van der Merwe) discovers that her husband, Bernard, is cheating on her with her friend and colleague, Anais (Angelique Gerber), things take a turn for the worse. Caught between a collapsing marriage, a ruined friendship and being a mother to her two children, Clara moves her family from Johannesburg to Cape Town in an attempt to start afresh. Here, Clara rediscovers her passion for food, begins new friendships and re-enters the world of dating for the first time in twenty years, all the while plotting her revenge on the people who wronged her.