STAR TREK BEYOND 3D REVIEW

Star Trek be-yawwwnnneed.

The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy (Ol’ Luther – I mean, Idris Elba) who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

I’m NOT the biggest Trekkie BUT I have really enjoyed the Abram reboots. Shaking up the cast, reworking the old story lines and tweaking the dynamic.

A breath of fresh air among the barrage of reboots, remakes and endless (and unnecessary) sequels. BUT it was always going to be a tough act to follow Into Darkness.

A new outing that didn’t rely on past plots. My confidence was restored when I discovered that Beyond was penned by an avid Trekkie (Simon ‘Shaun of the Dead’ Pegg!). A man who relished the dream role of playing Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott made famous by James Doohan.

BUT this time around, I felt this lacklustre sequel only just delivered a watchable actioner. From the director of Fast and Furious, I knew I could expect big explosions AND good set pieces.

BUT it was a case of either being too fast and furious with the action or drawn out and repetitious with barely any exploration of the characters. Even the laughs were few and far between.

The opening act didn’t really give me much hope with the crew acting as intermediaries between some silly CGI dog things. Yikes. It seemed to go through the motions with Pine’s Kirk going through yet another existential crisis as he questioned his purpose on the Enterprise.

Quinto’s Spock received some grave news which made the normally unfeeling extraterrestrial contemplate life and death. I just wished it wasn’t so tedious and uninteresting.

That’s NOT to say there weren’t moments to be had. The special effects were impressive. BUT that was only when you could actually see the set pieces. There were several scenes where I actually struggled to see a majority of the action.

I could see the Phaser rays blasting through the darkness BUT only just gather that it was Kirk and Chekhov sliding down a spaceship hanging off a cliff. Ridiculous.

The 3D was a waste of time. It didn’t bring anything to the experience. When the Enterprise was attacked by Krall’s death ships, it was a sight to behold BUT after 15 minutes of explosions and carnage, I found myself fidgeting.

I liked the dynamic between Spock and Bones as the pair were reluctantly put together. Karl Urban (Dredd) was the main scene stealer and kept things light when the pace drudged along.

Once Big Ears got over his nihilistic sulk, he was back on fine form. The banter between the duo was a much needed tonic; “You gave your girlfriend radioactive jewellery”.

The rest of the crew was a mixed bag. The late Anton Yelchin had quite a big involvement in the mix as he aided Kirk in the battle against Krall’s goons. His presence will be missed. Although rumours suggest that Abrams may try and do what they did with Walker in the Fast and Furious franchise.

Pegg’s muddled Scot accent really grated against me. And I was disappointed that his little green pal Wee Man (“Get down from there!”) was left on the sidelines.

There wasn’t any depth to the characters. Bar Dr Zulu’s sexuality. Hardly a revelation and thrown in without any exploration. Shame.

There might have even been a bad continuity error with the length of their journey to the age of Zulu’s child (For those who watched it – Did you notice this?).

Saldana’s Uhura was reduced to being Krall’s prisoner for the majority of the movie. If anything, her absence wasn’t missed. Disappointing, to say the least.

Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) was the best character in the piece as the feisty Jayla. I wanted to know about her origins and why she was the only alien to evade Krall’s capture.

However it wasn’t long before she was pushed into the background for more mindless exposition. Only to be brought back for the frantic finale.

More could have made out of her. A missed opportunity.

Idris Elba did his best with the creepy Krall. The make up was brilliant. He really looked the part BUT Luther’s lines and delivery made him too comical for my liking. You try listening to him with that silly voice pronouncing Captain Kirk. Good lord.

He couldn’t match Cumberbatch’s tenacity or Bana’s bad-assery and was quite a tame villain by comparison. A twist about Krall could have been so much more BUT by the end, I couldn’t care less.

Captain’s Log; Beyond was a bit of a misfire for me. It tried to deliver a bit of everything and failed on all fronts.

A watchable effort that killed the time BUT I think Scotty better beam up a better script for the next endeavour.

2.5/5

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*NEW* ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING REVIEW *NEW*

absolutely-anything

I would recommend that you see absolutely anything else.

And that’s coming from a Python fan! On paper, Pegg and the Pythons spelled perfection. Pull the other one!

A group of eccentric aliens confer a human being (Simon Pegg) with the power to do absolutely anything as an experiment.

After watching the Monty Python reunion at the O2 arena, I was a little anxious about their latest offering. The old gags felt stale and the gang just didn’t deliver for me. I understand that they couldn’t reach that level of energy and eccentricity (Come on, they’re in their seventies) BUT at least they used to be funny. Tragically that rut has continued.

The premise was pretty much a British take on Bruce Almighty. BUT even that fell short by comparison. The flat opening really didn’t get things going.

The Pythons provided their voicing gravitas to the aliens. It was silly enough but far too tame as they translated their alien names into female ones and bickered about destroying Planet Earth.

Pegg certainly carried this lead balloon as much as he could and was a likeable lead. Once he got his powers, things really got into the flow. Shame that the momentum couldn’t stick. BUT I was entertained for a good twenty minutes.

Pegg’s bathroom body enhancements had me howling. Hang on. Let me rephrase that. The fact he asks for the body of a great man and turns into Albert Einstein delivered the silly chuckle. And a gag involving the changing of one’s appendage was unexpected but dropped a cracking punch line.

All the little jokes from the dog mess cleaning itself up to Pegg’s mate getting his own cult, ticked the boxes but it just wasn’t enough. Maybe I expected too much after growing up with the Python movies and TV shows. The Holy Grail and Life of Brian were iconic comedy classics. BUT this? Dreadful. The rest of the gags and set pieces were ridiculous, corny and stupid for all the wrong reasons.

The stunning Kate Beckinsale did her best with her role but the love subplot with Pegg was too bland and nauseating to care about. Sanjeev Bhaskar didn’t do a bad job as Pegg’s best friend and tried to keep things watchable.

Joanna Lumley was terrible in her cameo. You know you’re onto a loser when Ab Fab’s Patsy can’t save the day. The idea of a book critic grilling authors for scandal and ratings over intellect and culture may have sounded good on paper (In fact it doesn’t). BUT the finished result certainly wasn’t and by the end you wondered why her character was even involved.

There was a saving grace with the late but always great Robin Williams as Dennis the dog. He was hilarious. Meshing all sorts of crazy voices including a spot of the old Doubtfire. The canine’s obsession with biscuits and running commentary on any passing thought that popped in his head delivered the much needed laughs.

Eddie Izzard wasn’t in this enough as the Headmaster. He delivered with the tiny tidbits he was given. While Rob Riggle, on the other hand, was in it far too much. Normally you could bank on the chap to deliver the goods after his appearances in Step Brothers and Let’s Be Cops. But this time around, he was irritating and highly unfunny.

It didn’t help that the divide between the Pythons and Eric Idle was so obvious. Even as an alien, Idle was separate from the team. Whether it was meant to be a joke in itself baffled me. He even had his own skit as a racist skeleton. You read that right. I don’t know if I made that sound better or worse.

The tone was all over the place. It was macabre in one sequence. A joke about Pegg’s classroom blowing up certainly delivered the shock factor with a surprise asteroid attack. BUT in the next frame, we had people running around London with webbed feet and big fluffy ears. It felt like the gang suddenly realised that the film was supposed to be a 12A and watered it down. Killing off the last 30 minutes. The last 30 minutes of an 86 minute film.

I knew it was always going to fall short of the iconic Life of Brian and Holy Grail BUT I expected so much more. For good portions of the film, I was bored or cringing at how dire the gags really were.

Disappointed would be an overstatement. Pegg and the cast do their best and there were some laughs to be had BUT it was all for nothing. One star for the cast and one for the jokes that did tickle me.

2/5

MAN UP REVIEW

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Right leads. Wrong film.

An easygoing, if incredibly silly little rom com that does just enough to keep you smiling for 90 minutes.

A single woman (Lake Bell) who’s mistaken for a stranger’s blind date (Simon Pegg), leads to her finding the perfect boyfriend.

When Bell’s character Nancy first graced the screen, I could feel my face burrowing into my hands. And no! Not even in the guilty cringe manner. Her monotonous warbling and silly face pulling really didn’t sell it for me. Or get things going for that matter (I meant, in the context of the film. Come on, we’re better than that).

Her introduction didn’t fare well. It seemed to be needlessly rude. Desperate to keep in the same vein as The Inbetweeners. But that was only because it was made by (What do you know!) the same people.

Her impromptu comments about blow jobs and dead sisters at a wedding reception clearly established her poor social interaction skills but it was unnecessary. Especially when you could already relate to Nancy’s isolation and loneliness in her overlong opening conversation with the hotel room mirror. Luckily, her character does grow on you.

Lake Bell had an impeccable English accent. Rumours were that she kept in character until post production so no one knew she was American. Maybe a little too serious on the method acting but it worked.

Fed up and giving up on love at 34, things don’t seem to be going too well for Nancy. That is until a chance meeting with an insufferable chatterbox (The lovely Ophelia Lovibund. What?). Some waffle about a blind date and a self help book as their call sign. One things leads to another. Girl leaves book. Nancy tries to catch her. Cue Simon Pegg. Welcome, bienvenue.

As soon as Pegg entered the mix, sparks flew. Bell and Pegg had fantastic chemistry and really worked off each other. Things thankfully perked up. It was funny watching Nancy trying to blag through the date and pretending to be a 24 year old triathlete.

For a good portion of the film, it was easygoing, funny and I actually gave two monkeys about the couple. The premise was a little farfetched with everything supposed to happening during one night. Their silly theories, movie quotes and banter stood out the most for me.

My little gripe was that there wasn’t enough of Nancy’s family. Ken Stott (The Hobbit – the films. Not the man) was hilarious. The family angle was something that could have been tapped into a lot more. A missed opportunity.

A shame considering the talented supporting cast at the director’s disposal. Sharon Horgan (Drop The Dead Donkey) was playing it surprisingly straight faced which made a change. It proved she can do normal but I expected better lines and quips from her.

When the family were involved, it was comedy gold. Especially with Nancy’s breakdown. Unsure whether to cheer or boo from her reaction. Brilliant.

Simon Pegg was superb. His nerdy verbal diarrhea and mad impressions really made his character stand out. To be honest, he was pretty much playing himself. His perfectly choreographed dance-off with Bell to Duran Duran’s The Reflex was nauseatingly cheesy but got a guilty grin.

Inevitably as Nancy’s web of lies begin to unwind, it isn’t long before fists are flying! BUT Pegg’s character Jack has his own secrets. An encounter involving his ex wife (Olivia Williams) certainly turned the tables and made for entertaining viewing.

However, the film tragically got sillier and more ridiculous by the minute and the last 20 minutes really killed off what had been an entertaining rom-com.

Rory Kinnear’s weird stalker character was unnecessary. He was funny when he was first introduced. The desperate little man still swooning over his old secondary school crush. But he soon became a moronic blackmailer demanding a blowjob in exchange for not spilling the beans!

Stupid. And when he was waiting naked in a toilet, the joke went too far. It would have been better if he was the scorned crush but Google tracking her location and driving around a BMW like an nutter? NO.

What was with the Game of Thrones actors popping up in this? John Bradley? That’s right Samwell Tarly as a hotel bell boy (Uncredited. I can see why) and Dean-Charles Chapman (Martyn Lannister) as a pissed up youth crashing a house party.

Oh God, the closing scenes were terrible. Seriously, it was so OTT and vomit inducing. A simple request for directions at a house party led to Pegg running around the streets with a massive entourage of drunken kids.

It was needlessly silly and corny and ended with all the things you could think off to fill the chick flick checklist. Cliched speeches (Tick), the “Will-they-won’t-they?” (Of course), the bickering and splitting up (All within one night, might I add).

BUT great chemistry from two excellent leads certainly made this one to see. But with all the silly guff, it soon became one to forget.

By all means, it’s watchable. I laughed quite a bit but I just wished the last 20 minutes didn’t happen. That’s all.

Thumbs up for Man Up? More like a shaky hand.

2.5/5

HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS REVIEW

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Oh Hec . . . Well this is a mixed bag, isn’t it?

One thing that can be agreed is that Simon Pegg is brilliant and shows how much he has progressed from his Spaced days. Providing charisma and charm to an otherwise weak protagonist made all the difference.

The end result did leave me with a smile but the journey along the way seemed to stumble and stammer along, failing to decide on what tone to set. It teeters from feel good dramedy to hard hitting drama with the results mixed as none of them really gel or hit home as much as you’d expect or hope.

The slow burning opening does put you into a bit of a lull which is not a good start. Of course, the point is that we are supposed to see the source of Hector’s frustration as he plods on through his mundane life on auto pilot. But we get that connection in the first two minutes not twenty.

Pegg has great chemistry with the alluring Rosamund Pike but she is soon cast aside to Skype cameos as we follow Hector on his pursuit for happiness (No, different movie) after a mini-meltdown with one of his clients and Pegg’s many comedy counterparts Tracy Ann Oberman as the ill-titled Pathetic Jane.

The meltdown sequence allows Pegg to shine (with a catchphrase to remember). However, there only seems to be moments. A moment where Pegg can be funny. A moment where Pegg can act. It’s just not consistent enough.

A humourous incident in which Hector tests the versatility of the unbreakable cutlery on the first class flight was a good gag. A conversation with a cancer patient made for sobering viewing but was ignited by solid acting. We get to travel across the world(Well, China, Africa and America) to find the essence of happiness.

To be honest, the main message I got from the film was travel the world. Not just Africa. An elongated kidnapping sequence just didn’t seem to fit in the film at all and how Hector got out of it involving a pen from a drug kingpin was just stupid.

It helps that Pegg has a good supporting cast. It’s just a shame that anyone could have played their parts. Jean Reno played the arrogant and erratic drug king pin as well as you would expect but this didn’t seem like the sort of film to make satire. Satire that is not that subtle or clever.

Stellan Skarsgard was wasted as the affluent businessman who has it all. An encounter on the plane made for funny viewing as Hector irritates Skarsgard’s slumbering businessman. However, once they get into China, Skarsgard’s character is pushed aside.

At times, it was hard to feel sorry for Hector when he tends to act quite selfishly, especially when he has such a supporting and caring wife. I know, that’s life but as a film when you’re supposed to be rooting for the little guy, you end up wanting to slap him round the head and tell him to go home.

A lapse in judgement nearly leads to our “hero” sleeping with a hooker (played well by Ming Zhao). Why go out for burgers when you have steak at home? According to my brother who attended the screening with me.

Togo Igawa played the kind hearted monk well and to be honest, I wanted to see more of him. I know that this film was adapted from a book but this only spurred me to read the book to see if it is as bad as the film.

The weird cast asides and little convos with Hector’s inner child and childhood dog didn’t go anywhere and didn’t really fit. They felt forced into the film. Toni Collette played the old flame as well as she could bar one good scene in which they confront each other over their past.

Christopher Plummer makes a crazy cameo as the eccentric professor who can detect happiness in the brain. (Yeah, it really was as boring as you think). But Plummer manages to make any scientific mumbo jumbo sound believable with his dulcet tones.

It’s all hit and miss. Certainly watchable and Pegg has proven that he can act and act well. It will be great to see his next project with a better character, better story and a bit more room for him to apply his spiel.

The better moments seep through when Pegg is allowed to be . . . Pegg. It’s not bad but if you’re looking for a feel good travel movie then watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

It has good moments and an easy going message by the ending. That corny predictable ending.

2.5/5 for me.

Not bad not not great. Shame.