Movie Reviews: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

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Star Trek III: The Search for Spock directed by Spock

In hindsight, the simplest solution to bringing back Spock from the dead was always to give him what he wanted.

To direct his very own movie.

According to many people, Star Trek is afflicted with the “odd movie” curse. The motion picture was a complete bore (besides watching Kirk fly up to the retrofit Enterprise, I can’t watch the movie). Star Trek V was bombastic (giving Shatner the keys to the kingdom only to find out he didn’t have the magic touch). Star Trek Generations was a mess (to be covered in a future blog). Star Trek III was always thrown in as a weak, odd movie, when I believe it is a tremendous film when you break it down.

Nimoy knew heart of Star Trek was the characters and put it all on the line here, before blowing up the Enterprise became a lame trope.

Admiral Kirk, fresh off his encounter with Captain Ahab Khan, reuniting with his ex-flame and his long lost son, and losing his closest friend, Spock, returns the Enterprise to space dock. It sounds a little extreme, but I think the return to space dock sequence is moving on many different levels and can be read numerous different ways. Is Kirk coming home defeated, or is this an allegory for coming home from war? Are all those people standing up to watch the damaged Enterprise in awe of the space fight that must have transpired, or in awe that they know this is Admiral James T. Kirk’s ship and he is a total badass, or know that he just beat Khan, or are they paying final tribute to a final voyage of a ship. We then learn that Spock’s life force has been transfered into McCoy and a choice is made by Kirk.

Kirk is going to steal the Enterprise (before Nicholas Cage started stealing Cars, the Declaration of Independence and the President).

He is going rogue.

The crew makes a choice to commit mutiny and face whatever consequences, in order to search for Spock. Star Trek III is more of a caper than anything else. It is different and real and the emotional impact is there because you have a 25 year relationship built up with the audience. They want Spock back just as much as the crew does.

Then we have one of my favorite scenes in the movie; Mr.Scott sabotaging the Excelsior. I love the interplay between old and new, past and present, a theme heavily covered in Star Trek II. The search and rescue is tremendous, up to the inputing the codes to self destruct the Enterprise. Here, I actually feel something when they destroy it. There is a relationship between a man and his starship. When Star Trek Generations tried the same thing with Riker (a single bird of prey destroying it), it was lame. It didn’t play up to the theme of sacrifice and getting old and risking everything that Star Trek III did. None of the new movies quite live up to the swashbuckling nature of the old series. The movies stand apart from the TV series because the characters make bold choices that they hadn’t made before and are willing to pay the price for what they believe is right. Can you imagine watching this movie back then without knowing what was about to happen next? This is storytelling and imagination without worrying about the box office and action figures and ties ins.

Overall, the movie is a solid follow up to Star Trek II, and is a good middle section of the “great Star Trek trilogy.” It isn’t as good as the Wrath of Khan or the Undiscovered Country, but I could watch this more than any of the Next Generation films and especially INTO DARKNESS … ugh.

Movie Rating: 9.5/10

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Movie Reviews: Kick Ass

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Kick Ass directed by Matthew Vaughn

Much of why many films work can be credited to the vision of the director. In Kick Ass, a lesser capable director would have failed at adapting the story. Just think of this notion; when was the last Nicholas Cage movie that was actually good? What was the last movie you saw that the hero was a little girl who battled grown ups? How many super hero movies can you name were the main character isn’t there hero at all … only a sidekick?

Kick Ass does all this and more.

I watched the movie on DVD about two years after the release. Personally, I think many marketing departments do a poor job showing what the true essence of the movie is. Usually the trailers are hastily put together and try to appeal to … I don’t know who many of the trailers today appeal to. Many of them try to make the movie look like another hit and show all the good parts, or try to appeal to action junkies. Their job is to get people in seats. A few directors, like Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, and JJ Abrams make good trailers nowadays without giving too much away. In any case, I watched the movie with low expectations.

I was surprised in many good ways. Nicholas Cage wasn’t so annoying. I actually believed in his character’s mission and saw the void caused by his death. His daughter in the movie, Hit Girl, is in a world of her own. She carries the movie more than any other character. Dave aka Kick Ass, is actually pretty annoying with zero charisma, but we don’t care. He is merely the audience’s POV watching all of the action go down. And boy, does the action pick up to a climax that is so unreal I had to watch it twice. If there is a word for Unbelievable-Awesome, let me know, because that is what it was.

Matthew Vaughn gets the performances he needs out of everyone, including Mark Strong who plays the villain (before the commercials portraying the villainous British archetypes years later). He has a serious eye for talent.

I rate the movie a 9/10 and one of the few surprise movies I’ve seen where I didn’t want to watch the movie at all after seeing the preview.

Check out Matthew Vaughn’s other movies: Layer Cake (with Daniel Craig before he was bond and Tom Hardy before he was Bane/Mad Max), Stardust (surprise hit based on Neil Gaiman story … also has a solid cast), X-Men First Class (before Jennifer Lawrence blew up with Hunger Games and won Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook), and Kingsman: Secret Service (with Taron Edgerton as one of the final 5 candidates for the new Han Solo movie). Matthew Vaughn is in a class of director I will watch anything they make for now on, no matter the genre. Only David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, JJ Abrams, and Peter Jackson fit this category.