Star Trek Beyond directed by Justin Lin from a screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung.
Nine hundred and sixty six days into its five year mission, the USS Enterprise arrives at Starbase Yorktown, a massive snowglobe-like station with its own internal atmosphere and cityscape, to replenish dwindling supplies while the crew takes shore leave.
An escape pod drifts out of a nearby nebula and the Enterprise is dispatched on a rescue mission.
The rescue turns into an ambush when the Enterprise is overwhelmed by a massive swarm of ships. The swarm's commander, Krall, boards the ship searching for the Abronath, an alien artifact that Kirk had obtained on a recent mission.
The swarm rips apart the Enterprise, and the saucer section crashes to the planet as the crew abandons ship in escape pods.
The action is excellent, Hollywood at its best!, and the menace of the swarming enemy ambush as it rips apart The Enterprise is frightening and moving; we long-time Star Trek fans have also, like the crew, come to regard the ship as almost one of the characters and to see her ravished in cinematic detail is a set-up that promises an enemy as daunting as the Borg and a conflict resolution complex, difficult and satisfying!
Who are these aliens? Why are they doing this? What do they want? What motivates them? How will our band of intrepid heroes overcome this devastating weaponry and neutralize such a threat?
Sadly this great set-up fizzles like a bottle of champagne gone flat. Yes the action sequences live up to what one expects in a big-budget Hollywood production, I have no bone to pick there, but the resolution fails to reward the visceral investment the set-up inspired.
Antagonist Krall, played by Idris Elba, is no Khan (played by Ricardo Montalbán in Wrath of Khan and Benedict Cumberbatch in Into Darkness), and his motivation when we learn it is underwhelming, petty and very hard to be interested in.
And while wearing the prosthetic, Elba's delivery of dialogue is almost unintelligible. It doesn't get all that much better when the prosthetic is removed late in the film.
One of the writers claimed, "We really want to get back to the sense of exploration and wonder.
The kind of optimistic sense of the future that Star Trek has always kind of had at its core." Starbase Yorktown could have been an
excellent vehicle to explore this theme.
To spend a little film time experiencing it
as an embodiment of Roddenberry's "wonder... (and) optimistic sense of the future" would have
not only elevated the film to a worthy and
memorable entry in the franchise, but made one
care a whole lot more about the fate of its
Which might have gone a long way toward overcoming the villain's unimaginative motivation.
Instead it is just a prop for action stunts.
Some films achieve a magical movie alchemy wherein the whole is greater than the sums of its parts. Ghostbusters 2016 is not one of those movies.
Paranormal researcher Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and physicist Erin Gilbert are trying to prove that ghosts exist in modern society. When strange apparitions appear in Manhattan, Gilbert and Yates turn to engineer Jillian Holtzmann for help. Also joining the team is Patty Tolan, a lifelong New Yorker who knows the city inside and out.
The audience laughed out loud only occasionally, yet bafflingly at the end applauded. (Did they see a different movie than I saw, or having been so inculcated by ads and the media were they a little brainwashed and, as people seem to be now in this age of "reality programming," complicit in the pretense, as if they too have a stake in the outcome?)
Critics have rightly singled out the performance of Kate McKinnon for particular notice and praise as she is outstanding in the role of gonzo inventor/engineer Holtzmann and is the beating heart of this cast, who otherwise seem inexplicably muted, despite the undeniable talent they all possess.
Not that there weren't laughs (though not as many as you'd expect) but if their performances were circus tigers you'd never worry they might turn and eat the tamers. McKinnon's performance on the other hand was inspired madness and you better not turn your back on it!
And who made Melissa McCarthy nice? Sanded down her hostile edges? It was a mistake; this movie needed that. Director Feig and writer Dippold also teamed up with McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat, but GB2016 lacks any Ya-Ha rollicking buddy movie quality. In this film Feig is also a co-writer, perhaps that wasn't a great idea.
It feels like their performances are being reined in. Even during an appearance of the four of them on 'Ellen' they seemed ill at ease with their (obviously) tightly-scripted promo personas. What is the studio afraid of?
And the Chris Hemsworth role is just plain stupid. I love me a good comedic "dumb blonde" as much as the next guy, but this ain't that.
It's not that I hated the film, it was just disappointing. It could have been so much better, as McKinnon's performance hinted; it certainly had the talent to be. I place responsibility for the underwhelmingness of this film directly at the feet of director Paul Feig and co-writers Feig and Katie Dippold.
Stephen King’s Welsh Corgi, Arfy, has done it again.
His short story Bite ‘Em in the Butt, first published in The New Yorker, won the coveted Peeker Award; now his novel Bowwow Up the Yingyang is topping New York Times bestseller lists on its way to Hollywood and major money.
“It’s no big deal,” Arfy told this reporter modestly as we lunched yesterday at Manhattan’s popular Four Seasons. “Both of Steve’s sons, Owen and Joe, had books published recently. Of course those boys don’t need to mess with agents or other pedestrian crap; Daddy’s name does the work for them. Both their books suck big time, oboy do they ever! But it doesn’t matter how rotten you are, only how well-connected.”
“Where do you get your ideas, do you mind my asking?”
“From the infinite greatness of my own mind,” Arfy chuckled, wolfing down a caviar-laced pop tart. “I thought I was at my peak brilliance in Bite, but Bowwow is really making those Hollywood moguls sit up and take notice.”
“How long did it take you to write Bowwow, and did you use Steve’s computer?”
“Yes to both questions,” nodded Arfy. “If I’d been a Rottweiler it wouldn’t have worked so give me some credit here for sleight-of-paw Darwinian adaptation as a solution to an environmental problem serving a functional purpose—much as long-necked giraffes began having more offspring because of phylogenetic inertia, know what I mean?”
“Er,” I said. “Yes, more offspring would really do the trick. But tell me, when is Steve’s daughter Naomi coming out with her first novel?”
“Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,” Arfy snarled. “We writers are a jealous lot and if she gets published it’s only because Steve is her Pop; aside from that she has no talent whatever. Now I, on the other hand—”
A brush fire cut our interview short, but we hope to tap Arfy for the next installment as soon as his singed fur grows back out.
(written by Jody in 2006)
THERE are now six billion humans on this planet, soon to be twelve billion. Won’t that be nice? Won’t we all be twice as happy?
Oh, clap-clap-clap & Goody for us.
While you let that sink in for a minute, let me change the subject a bit, O.K.?
We all heard all this stuff about Scientology last year, and how bad it is, like, Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch to proclaim his love for a girl or maybe a woman or something—showing, according to the great audience, far too much enthusiasm, right?
Not to mention all these talk show hosts going “Haw, haw! Blah blah blah” about the subject and on and on until it comes out your ears. Well, as your Roving Reporter I have a duty to perform; I must check out these things and see if they are good for YOU dear reader or not. So I went and enrolled in a Scientology course just to see what was going on and tell YOU about it, O.K.? I did this just for you so let’s see some appreciation please you varlets and plenty of it. Anyway--
Your reporter was placed in a class with about fifty other eager students, all of whom looked fairly sane, if I am any judge of sanity. (You over there, heckler in the propeller beanie: Shut the F. up! Save your insults for the Q and A period, kid) Anyway, this course I was in was called Student Hat. The first thing they had us do was read some material by Hubbard and then—I realize this may be too much for you to take, so please be sitting down—then we had to look up every word we didn’t fully understand! How outrageous was that?
Why, never in any of the public schools I attended did we ever have to do such a thing as actually look a word up in a dictionary; schools have plenty of free computers and electronic gadgets and “products” up the yingyang, but certainly they do not confuse us poor citizens with a stack of dictionaries at every desk But here in this classroom, well—those Scienty-whatevers, they are really wild and crazy. Because any word you didn’t fully understand you had to look up in a goddamn dictionary.
What an insult; what an unwarranted slap in the face! I was so mad. How dare they do this? Think how demeaning it was—exactly like saying, “Your educational system sucks and your Leaders have not the first idea what they are talking about.” I mean, how dare they! I had to look up a couple of hundred words—a day, that is! Were these beasts trying to say I was iggorunt?
Believe me I was mad as hell (and wasn’t going to take it anymore). But after a day or two—well, holy cheese whiz, not to mention wow. I had learned that when you go past some word you don’t understand, the rest of what you’re reading becomes a sort of a hazy blank, and there are other physical symptoms and actual illnesses caused by plowing through material you only half understand, which we all do all the time in our regular educational system, on a day-to-day basis with no questions asked. (It would be unpatriotic to question Authority, do not forget.) Anyway…
It made me very mad; it was like saying to us humans “You are being trained as a gaggle of compliant idiots but now hear this: If you mispronounce a word, you really don’t know what that word means and should go forthwith and look it up; for behold, if a Leader calls a word ‘nucular’ when it’s really ‘nuclear’ that person has no conception of what he or she is actually saying and should be regarded as dangerous to your safety.”
Why, I never! I was so mad I could spit, and did! This class implied that no wonder we are a bunch of brainwashed zombies listening all day long to advertising crap, all of which must be a million miles from the truth in order to get us to go out and buy the asinine junk they are flogging so intently, right? So you can see that Scientology IS BAD because it shows our whole educational system as being totally idiotic, and based on the lie of not knowing what we are saying, writing, thinking or doing, all day long. Should we put up with this? NO! We should stick up for our own educational system no matter how dumb it may be, right? Right! Because that’s the American way, right? Right!
Anyway, hey, I was talking about this Tom Cruise fellow who is a known Scientologist, can you imagine? And in light of that astounding piece of news, here is something even worse; they have a thing called an emotional tone scale. At the bottom is the guy who sighs and says “What’s the use?” being half dead and ready to fall over at a moment’s notice, and this is considered good. Just above that state comes the grief-stricken person, Boo Hoo all the time, and then the ashamed, embarrassed or afraid person, and then the sneaky knife-behind-the-back type guy, and then the ANGRY one and the hostile one; and these states of emotional tone are considered good because they are where most people ARE, see? And a bit above that is the Conservative person (fearful and uneasy, ramrod up fundament in order to be “safe” which he/she definitely is not) followed by the bored one, then the cheerful one, then the enthusiastic one—but hey, when you get enthusiastic you are getting above the public acceptance level.
You can’t be enthusiastic in this society! We-the-majority simply won’t tolerate it, because a “grieving” or “bored” or “angry” person will think you are CRAZY for having the sheer effrontery to dare to be enthusiastic. Golly. Look what they did to Howard Dean, remember him? Howard gave an enthusiastic yippee, thus proving his chin wasn’t safely resting on his shoe tops like everyone else’s, which is just not nice and made him lose the nomination for president. Because he should have remained very, very “serious” and “important” like a Bank President or somebody really Important, right? He should have been safely three-quarters dead like everybody else. You bet. Because if a person gets enthusiastic, why, our whole house of cards might collapse just like that (snaps fingers while appearing to be very Serious and Important).
So you can see at a glance that Scientology is bad, because it will make our whole way-of-life look like something made to order for brainwashed zombies, and that is insulting and makes me mad and ashamed and embarrassed and apathetic and afraid, etc., all of which is JUST NOT NICE!
And that is all I have to say on that subject, so goodbye until next time my dear friends. Let me know what you think. I hope that you, too, agree that it’s highly intelligent to agree that looking up words in a dictionary is bad, because our Bible-God told us to remain on our knees and never, never reach for a dictionary because if you do, why, our whole house of cards could collapse and that would be awful.
Anyway I got to go now, it’s time for my shock treatment and drug “therapy” and some other nice things the System uses to keep us sheepies in line for shearing time so we can have plenty of wars so the government can tap our phones and pick our pockets to give our money to their rich pals and make it be totally unpatriotic to protest, or to speak our mind, ha ha on you, sucker! See what I mean? So anyway, ta ta for now and also Baaa, BaAaaa: remember to apologize a lot while giving generously of your wool and NEVER look ANY WORD up in a dictionary because you might discover that we’ve been turned into brainwashed zombies and that wouldn’t be flattering, so we Americans won’t stand for it.
Because we want to be flattered by TV commercials all day long, and that’s the truth so remember: do not rock the boat at any time, sucka! Just go along with the herd and you’ll be safe. (Unless or until one of those six-or-twelve billion little darlings decides to drop a bomb on our pointy Murkin heads, right? Like boom! Not to mention zowie.) Meanwhile: Love to everyone,
Ever your sincere and fearless front-line reporter,
For more information check out The Beginner's Guide to L. Ron Hubbard on YouTube,
or read this article on Vice, or go to Wikipedia.