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Months of Meryl: THE RIVER WILD

"Great post and comments. Yes, Streep had to navigate the rough waters of being in her 40's! I do think she smashed through the glass ceiling for women since she persevered and then became an even bigger star in her 50's." - Sister Rona

"One of my favourite movies from my teen years - I'm shocked at how long ago this was released. It was Meryl that sold this movie for me and is the reason I saw it. At the time, and I still feel this way, she is the reason to watch and believe this film." -Filmboymichael

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Review: Star Trek Beyond

It’s Eric, an admitted non-Trekker, with some reflections on Star Trek Beyond.  

Is there a better rebooter in the industry than J.J. Abrams?  His last directing effort, a little film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens, expertly combined the franchises’ original charm and simplicity with a new sparkle that made it the best in the series since 1983.  And when Abrams kicked off Star Trek in 2009 for a new generation, he seemed similarly to balance many of the qualities dear to Trekkers’ hearts while introducing a new audience (of which I was one) to the series.   

Abrams also directed the next installment, Into Darkness, but here on Beyond serves as producer only while the director reigns go to Justin Lin.  Lin is an expert action director and has delivered some killer set pieces in volumes three through six of the Fast and the Furious franchise...  

It’s easy to underestimate what Lin brings to the table in those films, and in fact his loss was felt in this most recent fllm of that series (Furious 7) because Lin brought a heightened tongue-in-cheek quality that allowed viewers to get hyped up on the film’s basic preposterousness.  Furious 7 had zero cleverness. 

The big difference between the Furious and Star Trek franchises is that Star Trek has heart, a quality that comes easily to Abrams but not so easily to Lin.  When the actors from Furious deliver their lines woodenly, it’s part of the endemic fabric of that world:  they’re all such cardboard movie characters that you’re willing to sail through the actual scenes to get back to the peerless action.  But with Star Trek (and Star Wars), the characters, though certainly movie creations, have cultural resonance, and the interrelationships matter.  Lin strands the actors here in Beyond, and he gives them no pacing:  an early drinking scene between Chris Pine and Karl Urban is so awkward it’s painful.  At the end of the picture, he blows a key shot which gathers all the main players by cutting away before they even congregate properly, switching over to the Enterprise itself.  One of the reasons the Star Trek films work so well is because we care about those characters, particularly as a collective.  In Beyond, the actors are present and game, and you can see their ease and happiness with each other, but Lin never allows that chemistry to resonate as it did in the first two installments.

Star Trek Beyond does have a very simple and creaky plot involving a rescue on another planet, and an underdeveloped bad guy in the form of Idris Elba, with his movie-star face sadly covered by makeup throughout the film.  Simon Pegg and Doug Jung’s script incorporates such clunker chestnuts as a weapon of mass destruction that needs not one but two pieces to work properly, and the thoroughly untrustworthy guide who everyone blindly puts their trust in!

There are still pleasures to be had in this installment, though. Lin and the production designers once again capture that slight element of cheesiness from the original series that makes everything feel handmade and endearing.  Star Trek Beyond never gets bad, but it never gets particularly good, feeling perfunctory in a way that’s just a little depressing for a franchise steeped in so much sweetness and goodwill.

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Reader Comments (5)

Hmmm. I am also a non Trekkie but i thought it was surprisingly good for the exact reason you dinged it hmmm. I thought it was funny and had a lot of heart. Just goes to show you no two viewing experiences are actually the same.

But wholeheartedly agree on the thing about the need for more collective cast shots. As usual the films tend to give some members of the cast shortshrift. People really need to study Joss Whedon's two Avengers movies, if for no other reason than how well he can juggle a bunch of players with different "gifts" to bring to the action/ strategy/drama. It seems like Star Trek has trouble doing anything other than one character a time: oh here comes Kirk's moment and everyone else will just run around escaping. Here comes Spocks moment -- what is happening with everyone else on the ship? who cares!

July 25, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I haven't seen the movie yet, so skipped most of the review; but wanted to point out that JJ also saved the Mission:Impossible franchise. That ship was sailing nowhere fast until he brought the fun back to the proceedings.

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGuest

I thought the movie was fun and better than Into Darkeness... This cast is absolutely charming!

July 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjamie

This was the first startrek movie I have not enjoyed and have been a fan since the first series. The story was very basic and was like watching a fast and furious witch im not a fan of. Hope this crap is not served up to trekies in the future. Very disappointed.

August 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGraham

I just saw Star Trek "Beyond". Ugh. As someone who grew up with the original Star Trek, the new "series" cast and crew does not have the chemistry like the original crew. And can some one answer this question for me:
When the "new" Spock looks at the photo of the old crew of the Enterprise, who are all those people in the photo? I mean, if the new series with Chris Pine as Kirk is supposed to be the crew at the beginning of their respective careers, (Chekov, Scotty, "Bones" etc.) how do you explain the people in the photo Spock (Zachary Q.) is holding? I think there was a big mistake here.

August 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEll T

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