Before we begin, we must recognize the true hero of this story: Chatty-guy-behind-us. When the movie was sneakily attempting to foreshadow something or self-indulgently tried to build a moment, Chatty-guy was there for us! He heroically defused the tension from key scenes and selflessly, loudly kept us informed of events happening directly in front of us on a giant screen.
In the future nearly everybody on Earth lives below the poverty level, forcing people to take dangerous work. Mankind has implemented faster-than-light travel via a technology called “slipstreaming”. Matter is broadcast, somehow, to a specific point in the universe, where it’s reconstituted. It can then be called back at any time. This process is rife with danger and is extraordinarily error-prone, often leading to “data corruption”.
We’re wrapping up Peggapalooza with Simon Pegg’s [IMDB] latest. Of course, he reprised his role as Scotty from 2009’s Star Trek [IMDB] and 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness [My Review], but he also co-wrote this installment. The reboot of the first film left fans cautiously optimistic. The second left them worried. How will this fare?
It’s impossible to discuss Simon Pegg without mentioning The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (it’s already been mentioned several times during Peggapalooza). The films are directed by Edgar Wright [IMDB], written by Wright and Simon Pegg [IMDB] and star Pegg and Nick Frost [IMDB].
Cornetto’s, for those unaware, are a popular prepackaged ice-cream treat popular in the United Kingdom. Each of the films in the trilogy features a distinct, thematically appropriate, flavor.
Films have toyed with first person perspectives for decades, usually only in small doses. Thrillers show us what the killer sees while horror and sci-fi let us stalk the heroes through heavily filtered monster-vision. Heat-vision, night-vision, x-ray-vision, robot-vision and whatever-vision have all been simulated time and again. It’s an effective gimmick, but can it carry an entire film?
You regain consciousness, already standing, on a pale patch of red light. The edges of the room recede into darkness. You see many others, arranged with you in a circle around an ominous orb in the floor. One of them takes a step and the central orb flashes to life, knocking them to the ground. An unseen force drags away the body.
The overwhelming success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has allowed them a certain leeway; a certain freedom to experiment. While this hasn’t yet resulted in something truly insane, like a film led by a woman, it has allowed them to explore some of the quirkier ideas and characters available in the vast Marvel catalog. Two years ago, this led to the explosive success of Guardians of the Galaxy [IMDB] and now it brings the closest we’ve come to a straight Marvel comedy.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared the painful story of how I saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace on opening night, seventeen years ago. It was a sorry experience for more reasons than you’d think, but it did teach me an important lesson: even Star Wars can disappoint. The obvious question is: does it again?
I have no way to be impartial about this film. It’s a movie celebrating the drive and utility of science and, more broadly, intelligence in general. When it challenges its characters, it also challenges its audience. How could I begin to dislike a movie that says, without snark or caveat: “Smart is goddamn sexy.”
I won’t be seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens [IMDB] for at least a few more days. I hate crowds nearly as much as I adore the franchise, so will sneak into an early matinee sometime soon. All of the fuss has made me think of the last “Star Wars” premier I was excited for. (more…)