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Review: ‘Star Trek Beyond’ aims to get (sort of) back to basics

Star Trek Beyond

From a storytelling perspective, Star Trek Beyond represents a deliberate attempt to take the reboot film series back to the primary roots of Star Trek. It scales back the self-mirroring franchise-metatext ambitions shown in both the previous J.J. Abrams-helmed films and delivers what might best be described as a super-sized traditional Star Trek episode amped up on current-day filmmaking and visual effects steroids.

I just kind of wish I had liked it more.

Read the entire review.

At long last, my review of ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

Star Trek Into Darkness

I really don’t have a good reason for why my review for Star Trek Into Darkness took three years to write and post. I could give you the usual reasons, all mostly valid (I have two kids, a family, a job, and still like to keep up with the TV shows I want to watch, I pushed it aside in favor of Star Wars reviews and a website redesign, blah, blah, etc.), but in reality it pretty much comes down to this: After I didn’t manage to get it out after the first three or four months, inertia set in and it only got progressively worse, because at any given point I knew that it didn’t matter if I got it out now or in a few more months. So inertia kept me idle. Then six more months would go by, and six more…

Probably the main reason it’s finally posted now is that I promised myself to meet a deadline and get it posted before I go see Star Trek Beyond tomorrow. And I barely met that deadline. Granted, this review ended up being way longer than I had intended or planned, but that’s just how these things sometimes go, I guess.

But I didn’t imagine this review would somehow become my Waterloo. I don’t know how it got to that point. It just did. There’s really no reason for it aside from the intertia I already mentioned. I actually wrote long passages of it (that still appear in the final version) three years ago. And other parts of it two years ago. And the rest this week. It just turned into this weird thing that built up into an absurd mystique, like I’m George R.R. Martin or something. Which, to be clear, I know that I am not. Over a silly movie review to a silly movie that came out three years ago and that no one cares about anymore. But I am a completist, and I’ve heard from many of you who are as well and who wanted my take on this movie.

I probably could’ve easily put out a half-assed version at any point over the last three years, and probably should have. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it after waiting so long. On more than one occassion, people have speculated that I didn’t write this review (and never would) because I obviously hated the movie so much. You will see when you read it that’s not the reason at all. Like I said, there are no special reasons. It happened because it happened. It do what it do.

I also gather that people will probably discount this review altogether because it’s not the complete and total trashing that tracks with the conventional Trek-fan wisdom. What can I say? I guess I’m a contrarian here. A contrarian who happens to like the work of J.J. Abrams. Well, tough crap. Log your complaints in the comments. Tell me how wrong I am. Whatever. You probably already did anyway, three years ago. All I know is that this stupid review is finally done.

Look, just go read it, okay? It took me 38 months to write it, after all. The least you can do is read the damn thing. You jerk.

Then you can look for the Star Trek Beyond review sometime during summer 2019. Har har.

Jammer’s Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ is lackluster redundancy

The evil aliens with no personality return to menace Earth in “Independence Day: Resurgence.”

The best thing about Independence Day: Resurgence is its depiction, however limited, of life on Earth in 2016, 20 years after the devastating alien attack of 1996. Like in Star Trek, the realization of life (and grave threats) beyond Earth, coupled with advanced alien technology that has allowed humanity to solve so many technical challenges, has changed who we are as a people and put an end to war among ourselves.

Granted, this is a future much more like our present than Trek, but there’s something to be said for continuing the story and seeing how people picked up the pieces after the credits rolled at the end of an ostensibly feel-good movie that featured the destruction of so many major cities. Despite the (bloodless PG-13) holocaust, humanity has prevailed and apparently figured things out. And they knew that our own challenges must be solved on Earth, because another invasion from above was probably inevitable.

Read the full review and leave comments here.

My review as ‘Doom’ gets a reboot

doomA screen shot from the 2016 reboot of Doom.

I have to admit the headline above is intentionally misleading, because it makes this missive look like a review of something new rather than a look at something old. But although Doom has indeed been rebooted, this is not a review of that reboot. Rather, it’s using the reboot as an excuse to offer up my retro reminiscence through the Doom mania of the mid-1990s through my own personal lens, the only period of time which I could be considered anything close to a “gamer.”

Although I have a deep affection for the classic video games of the 1980s and ’90s, I can probably not be called a “gamer” — even though I’ve probably played hundreds of hours of video games. (I won a trip to Florida in 1993 by absolutely crushing my competition in a high-scoring contest of the original Super Mario Bros., although that’s a whole other tale for another time.) In my mind, “gamer” represents a more modern definition that implies multiplayer shooters, RPGs, or at the very least sports. Wii Bowling — probably not so much.

Yes, I own three versions of Nintendo, going from the 8-bit original to the second-generation 16-bit Super, and then skipping several generations to the original Wii, the latter for which I own perhaps three games and would break out usually only for (mostly drinking-based) parties back before my kids (and my friends’ kids) were born and we had time for such things. But I don’t consider those platforms ones that would make me a “gamer,” and besides, my game-playing days were left behind with those early-generation Nintendo games in my teenage years. (Read more…)

Reviews: Star Wars, Episodes I-VII

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A funny thing happened recently. Not long before The Force Awakens came out, my wife and I decided to re-watch all of Star Wars on Blu-ray. Then we went and saw Episode VII in the theater. Not long after that, I was having lunch with a friend and we were talking about all the Star Wars movies, including the most recent.

This particular friend is willing to go in-depth in these sort of geeky film/TV/media conversations whenever we have them (he’s a writer and a critic type, like me), so I went into the sort of detail talking about Star Wars that I might not have normally. And as I was sitting there talking, I realized I had most of the thoughts in my head about what I wanted to say about these movies, which I had just watched. All I needed to do was get them down on paper and expand upon them, because I knew they’d make a natural addition to my website. Besides — I love Star Wars. (Read more…)

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