August 2018~ Star Trek Discovery: Spock casting!

When Star Trek Discovery began in 2017, many Trek fans, myself included,Ā  hoped that they wouldn’t go anywhere near Kirk, Spock and co during the first season. I felt it needed to be accepted on its own merits. Season one was a complete success (for most fans) and it was an amazing sight when the Discovery finally came nose-to-nose with the USS Enterprise…..I must admit a little tear was shed!

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This led many to believe that the Enterprise would somehow play a big part in season two. That was subsequently confirmed by CBS when they announced that actor Anson Mount was cast to play Captain Christopher Pike (Commander of the Enterprise before Kirk), another Trek character to have been played by multiple actors.

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Anson Mount, Jeffery Hunter, Sean Kenney & Bruce Greenwood as Captain Christopher Pike

What little information we do have tells us that Spock has vanished; Pike and the crew of the Discovery, including Spock’s adopted sister Michael Burnham, set out to find him.

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Sarek (Spock’s father) & Michael Burnham

Since the announcement that Spock would somehow play a part in Discovery season 2 there has been a lot of speculation about who would play him if he were to appear.

Many fans were excited at the prospect of a new Spock, whilst others said that to recast would be tantamount to sacrilege as there can be only one- many said that Quinto was bad enough in the JJ Abrahms movies (FYI even though I’m not a fan of the JJ-verse, for me Quinto and Zoe Saldana were perfect casting choices).

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To me, Leonard Nimoy (Grandpa Leonard šŸ™‚ ) will always be the quintessential Spock. However, for Trek to continue, recasting becomes necessary.

I’d like to remind people that to date, 9 people, including Nimoy and Quinto have played Spock:

So there IS a precedent for a new actor playing Spock at a different age and I’m cool with that. I’m sure the new actor will pay homage to Leonard Nimoy- Leonard’s family seem to approve!

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Ethan Peck (Centre) with (L-R) Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax in Star Trek: DS9 and wife of Adam Nimoy), Adam Nimoy, Julie Nimoy & David Knight (Julie’s husband)

So who is the new Spock?

His name is Ethan Peck and he comes from good Hollywood-acting stock; his grandfather was the actor Gregory Peck who I loved in The Omen, The Guns of Navarone, To Kill A Mockingbird and more…..

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Ethan already has a good list of acting credits under his belt and I’m sure he will be a great addition not only to Star Trek Discovery, but to the whole Trek family!

Welcome Ethan!

August 2018~ The Meg

As usual, beware of spoilers!

It’s the summer holidays, I have my Odeon Limitless card so why not try and see every film possible this summer? Even one I was convinced was going to be a total rip-off of one of my favourite films, Jaws.Ā It didn’t help that I’ve never really been a fan of Jason Statham either but I thought why the hell not. Off I trotted to the Odeon Tottenham Court Road to see this new shark movie.

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I was wrong. I was also pleasantly surprised.

The story begins with a submarine in distress and the crew in need of rescue. Cue Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) and his mini-DSRV. He manages to save everyone but loses two of his crew before ‘something’ crushes the submarine.

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Two years later Dr Zhang (Winston Chao), an eminent Marine Biologist and his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing) are welcoming billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) to the research platform where they work and he (Morris) funds.

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Morris has been invited to witness an historic occasion. A mini-sub is about to prove that the Marianas Trench isn’t the deepest part of the ocean, and that what they believe to be the sea floor is actually a thermocline (a thin layer in a large body of water where the temperature changes rapidly with depth with different temperatures above and below. The thermocline acts as a barrier meaning these temperatures never mix). Once proven, they expect to find a whole new environment with never before seen species.

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As you can guess, something doesn’t go quite right and Jonas Taylor is brought in to help save the crew. On return to the research station they quickly find out that something has followed them through the break in the thermocline. a creature that was thought to be extinct; A Megalodon (a very old, f***ing great shark!).

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Things quickly descend into utter chaos and the usual amounts of screaming, crying and dying take place.

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There are also at least 6 homages to Jaws in the film. Director John Turteltaub said in an interview that whenever a shark film is released, critics will inevitably compare it to the 1975 Speilberg epic, so why not pay homage to one of his favourite films.

The links to Jaws that I noticed include:-

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  1. Ā The way the shark was filmed. From overhead shots to the silhouettes- it was remarkably similar in style.
  2. Ā Morris makes a comment about attaching a tracker to the shark, very reminiscent of the scene where Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Quint (Robert Shaw) try to attach a tracker using harpoons and barrels.
  3. There is a scene with Jason Statham trying to take aim at The Meg- very similar to the scene at the end of Jaws where Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) is aiming at the gas canister that eventually destroys Bruce.
  4. The attack on the beach is similar to that of the attack on Amity Beach.
  5. A dog ends up in the water. The dogs name is Pippin- very similar to Pippet, the black Labrador that perished in Jaws.
  6. The attack on the boat is visually similar to the attack on The Orca where Quint dies.

This film isn’t going to win any Oscars, but it’s a good, fun, romp worth of a repeat viewing. Very entertaining with lots of (sometimes inappropriate) chuckles throughout!

Rainn Wilson as Morris was a pleasant surprise! Wilson recently recreated the role of Harry Mudd, who was first seen in the original Star Trek, for the new show Star Trek: Discovery. There was a Trek reference in The Meg, said by him. I wonder if it was his idea?

Check it out!

August 2018~ The Darkest Minds

Beware- Spoiler alert below!

I had no knowledge of this film prior to watching it. I now know it to be part of a series of Young Adult (I like to think I still am one!) novels a bit like The Hunger Games- another book/film series that I enjoyed even if the middle film was a bit of a let down! I have ordered the books so that I can make a comparison for future use. Interestingly, I spent a lot of the film trying to work out where I had seen the lead actress, Amandla Stenberg before. It turns out she played Rue in The Hunger Games!

The Darkest Minds is a sci-fi thriller setĀ  in the very near future in the USA. A disease calledĀ Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration, or IAAN kills off 90% of the children aged under 18. The 10% that are left are all endowed with powers. The general public and the government are fearful of these children who are quickly placed in Nazi-style internment camps. It is in these camps that the children are classified and colour-coded according to his or her power. Of the powers, Greens are the least dangerous and have a very high level of intelligence and memories; Blues are classed as mildly dangerous and haveĀ telekineticĀ abilities; Golds are dangerous and can controlĀ electricity; Reds are highly dangerous and have the ability to generate and manipulate fire; Oranges are lethal and have the ability to enter and control the minds of others- they are also shot on sight.

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Ruby Daley celebrates her tenth birthday with her parents. That night, her powers first manifest themselves- she is an Orange. Ruby causes her parents to forget her and shortly thereafter ends up in an internment camp where she witnesses another Orange force a guard to commit suicide. She is then taken to be scanned where the doctor learns she is an Orange and tries to terminate her. Using her powers, Ruby escapes with the aid of another doctor and ends up on the run. On the way she meets three others: Liam, a blue with telekinetic powers, Zu a Gold who has to wear rubber gloves due to her electrical powers, and Chubs, a super-intelligent Green.

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Together, they head towards East-River, a haven for psionic kids in Virginia, run by Slip-Kid, one of the only surviving Oranges. On the way they have to contend with other kids, trackers who are hunting them and more.

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The film has received negative comments and ratings on sites like RottenTomato. For me, I found it an enjoyable movie that could easily be developed into a series of films. Yes,I found the ending to be weak, but I’m hoping its because they are hoping for a sequel. Performances all-round were fairly good considering the cast is quite young and the idea behind the story I find interesting. The only thing that let me down was their depiction of Salem, Virginia, It’s somewhere I know well and have visited it many times. It doesn’t look anything like what it did in the film. It’s a minor thing and doesn’t take away from the film, just me being picky!

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August 2018~ The Equalizer 2

Spoiler-ish review so beware!

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The Equalizer 2 is the follow-up to the successful 2014 film The Equalizer which was based on the 80s TV show of the same name starring Edward Woodward.

This film marks the first time that Denzel Washington has appeared in a sequel to one of his own films.

Once again, Denzel plays the part of Robert McCall, ex-Marine who helps people who have a problem and no-one to turn to. At the start of the film, McCall helps reconcile a child, who was abducted by her father and taken to Turkey, with her mother and begins to help an old man who was separated from his sister during the holocaust.

Now living in Chicago and employed as a Lyft driver (Like Uber), Robert is helping a young black man, Miles who is on the verge of joining a gang and getting revenge for the death of his brother. Instead, Robert takes him under his wing and guides him towards completing his studies and continuing with his painting. Robert even employs him to do some painting in his apartment complex.

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Robert’s old friend, Susan Plummer is investigating the murder of an agent and his wife in Brussels with Dave York (Pedro Pascal) who is an old teammate of McCall and believes him dead. Things go wrong during the investigation and Susan is murdered and Miles is kidnapped. Robert sets out to find her killers, rescue Miles and dish out his own personal brand of justice.

It is Denzel’s best sequel yet! šŸ˜‰ An enjoyable action film that’s not too hard on the brain and captures the essence of both the original show and previous film.Ā  I actually prefer it to the original film as we get more of an insight to the kind of thing Robert does as The Equalizer!

Thanks to Odeon Limitless for the advanced screening!

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August 2018~ Incredibles 2

This will be a very quick review!

I know I will be in the minority here, but I honestly thought that after 14 years we would get a better sequel. It’s an ok movie but I found the plot very, very predictable. The best part of the film for me was Baby Jack-Jack and Violet’s character development. It was good hearing Samuel L Jackson voice Frozone again though.

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I’m sure kids will love it and I’m just being an old fart but it was a bit meh!

July 2018~ Mamma Mia 2

Spoiler-Free, quick review!

Okay, confession time first. When the first Mamma Mia film came out ten years ago I hated it. The singing by some of the male cast really put me off, especially Pierce Brosnan’s. Over the years though I have grown to love it. Partly because my niece rammed it into my head like she did with Frozen and also because of the interviews I have read and watched with cast members, including Mr Brosnan and I quickly realised that none of them take themselves seriously. They had fun doing it and their aim was to make a fun, feel-good movie (unlike a certain film set in France in 1836 whose stage play I love but film I hate!).

Anyway, Mamma Mia- Here We Go Again is set a few years after the first film. I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that it takes place in two different time periods; the current day, where we see that Sophie is pregnant with her first child and also 1979 where we meet a young Donna (played awesomely by Lily James) who sets of on her adventures to meet Bill, Sam and Harry- Sophie’s dad’s!

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Again, lots of great ABBA music is used, including my favourite, ‘Fernando’ and a relatively unknown song (as it had a limited release) ‘Andante, Andante’.

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All of the original cast are back and are joined by Andy Garcia and Cher. For me, the one major triumph was in the casting of the young Donna, Tanya and Rosie. Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn (Tanya) and Alexa Davies (Rosie) are absolutely amazing as the younger versions of Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters characters and they even managed to copy their voices and mannerisms down to a tee.

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Its a great sequel and if I’m honest I prefer it to the original. MM2 has some amazing dance routines with a great ensemble cast and outstanding dancers and as I said the music is awesome.

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If you want a fun, feel-good movie this summer, go see this!

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July 2016~ Mission: Impossible Fallout

Spoiler-free, quick review!

Mission: Impossible Fallout takes place 2 years after the events of the previous film (Rogue Nation) when Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team captured terrorist and ex-MI6 agent, Soloman Lane.

The syndicate have reformed themselves into a new terrorist group known as ‘The Apostles’. The Apostles have stolen three weapon-ready plutonium cores that can easily be adapted to fit a variety of nuclear weapons. They plan on selling these cores to a fundamentalist called John Lark.

It is up to Ethan, his team Luther and Benji (Ving Rhames & Simon Pegg) along with Ilsa, an MI6 agent (Rebecca Ferguson) and CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) to stop them.

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As normal, if they are caught or killed the secretary would disavow all knowledge of them.

In my opinion this is the best of the MI films. Definitely the best since the first one, though Rogue Nation wasn’t bad either. I felt that films 2-4 (and in-part 5) had lost a bit of what the Mission: Impossible films and indeed the TV were about. They had become too much like a Bond or Jason Bourne film. However, this film has managed to find that again. The team got back to infiltration by disguise, using more of there mask making tech and cleverness rather than all out conflict. There wasn’t enough of that in the previous movies.

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This film has everything else you can expect from a Mission: Impossible movie. Car chases, air battles, Ethan climbing something, the usual fight scenes and a bit of comedy normally from Simon Pegg.

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It’s a fine addition to the MI series and a good action. Definitely worth a repeat viewing!