Directed by: J. J. Abrams Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Karl Urban Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence There’s a lot to like about the new Star Trek movie, “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” It has a great cast, incredible special effects, and thrilling action. Unfortunately, it also has an incredibly badly-written villain, a storyline that should be fine but somehow falls apart, and it completely fails to embody the underlying themes of the Star Trek canon. If you just want eyecandy, it’s fine, but if you have strong opinions about Star Trek, you should probably either skip this one or bring a flask of your favorite fortifying beverage. The story relies heavily (a little too heavily, for my taste) on several sudden reveals, so I won’t discuss it in too much depth here other than to say that it revolves around a villainous
Time travel is hard to handle well in fiction: it leads to paradox, weird philosophical discussions, and massive plot holes as often as not. Thankfully, “Looper” wisely gives us a firm footing to anchor our suspension of disbelief, tips its hat politely at the inevitable issues, and gets on with the business of telling an intense, thrilling science-fiction story.
Let’s get a few observations out of the way up front: no, there was no reason to remake the classic nineties cheesefest “Total Recall.” Yes, the new film is technically a remake even though the entire setting and big-picture conflict are different. No, the new film isn’t as terrible as I was expecting. Yes, it’s still pretty bad.
If the measure of great art is how much thought and discussion it inspires, “Prometheus” is very great art indeed. It asks so many questions, and leaves so many of them unanswered, that it is producing interesting, thoughtful discussions far and wide. It’s more of a meditation on the eternal questions of philosophy than a story — which is both a great strength and a major weakness.
The slogan of all sequels is “the same, but different,” and “Men in Black III” succeeds admirably in that department. Thankfully, it seems to have gone back to the 1997 original for inspiration rather than the lackluster “Men in Black II” from 2002. This is a fun, lighthearted, exciting movie fans will love and newcomers can still enjoy.
There is a special place in my heart for films that know exactly what they are and set out to fulfill their destiny with utter enthusiasm. “Lockout” is in that class of film. It knows it’s a B-movie sci-fi action flick, and has no pretensions otherwise. There’s no subtlety here, the film is predictable right down to much of its dialog, and the action and one-liners are slathered on thickly.
Disney has a knack for producing movies that aren’t terribly demanding, but are very entertaining for kids of all ages, including grown-up ones. “John Carter,” loosely adapted from the Edgar Rice Burroughs book “A Princess of Mars,” is just such a flick. If you’re the kind of person who can’t set aside science and enjoy a grand adventure on the surface of Mars, this is not a movie for you.
Written and Directed by: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy
Rated: PG-13 for violence, some sexuality and partial nudity, and strong language
“In Time” begins with one of the more honest voiceovers I’ve heard: our hero tells us he doesn’t have time to explain the science behind the foundation of his world, so he’ll just say how things are. With a premise as impossible as this, it’s far more respectful to your audience to simply gloss over the science rather than trying to explain it.
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton
Rated: PG-13 for violence, terror, some sexuality and brief strong language.
Prequels are by definition at something of an advantage — knowing even the basic plot of the stories that take place after them means that you have at least general knowledge of how the prequel must end. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” definitely has this problem; even folks who haven’t seen the other “Planet of the Apes” movies know how things wind up. Even so, the characters (both human and ape) are engaging enough to draw viewers into the film.
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference.
Westerns and alien invasion flicks both have their cliches, and the idea of mashing the two together is a clever one — that kind of genre smashing has done well in the past (“Shaun of the Dead” remains my favorite example). “Cowboys & Aliens” held great promise when its previews first started showing, and while it doesn’t quite live up to its potential, it’s still a lot of fun.