Star Trek Into Darkness review

Star Trek Into Darkness

I saw Star Trek Into Darkness the other day (at bloody last) and loved it. If I get a day off, I might go and see it again.

First off, the plot. I won’t go into this too much in case you haven’t seen it. Basically, there is a terrorist afoot and he blows up a small chunk of London when he attacks a Starfleet installation. The terrorist is English (as our accent sounds the most evil and intelligent) and used to be a Starfleet agent. This pisses Kirk off and he asks to pursue the bad guy. That’s as much as I can say.

The movie opens on what feels like an incredibly exciting episode of Star Trek. Frankly, Star Trek Into Darkness could have just consisted of the crew going from one mini adventure to the next and I would have been happy. This sequence gives you a bit of characterisation and a bit of insight into how they now function as a crew. It mostly feels like a mini Trek intro movie like you get with a James Bond film. Exciting as hell but with a tenuous link to the main plot. Then the main movie kicks in and things get more epic.

The set action pieces are spectacular and the 3D is done well. Some people have complained that perhaps they go on a bit too long but I guess that is a matter of taste. And also a matter them being wrong. The action was awesome.

It is the characters and dialogue that really shine. Not only are the dynamics between the characters further established and believable, they are also intelligent and funny. The whole Kirk/Spock thing is the main focus but Sulu, Uhura, Bones and Scotty are great in their supporting roles. Especially the latter two, who get a bit more screen time in this one. Particular praise has to go to Cumberbatch though, who is just superb. He is menacing and intelligent and hard as nails. The acting is a real highpoint in this movie.

Cumberbatch looking menacing

The vast majority of Star Trek Into Darkness reviews, like this one, have been massively positive. Most of the criticism has to do with lens flare effects or minor plot holes (most of which are incorrect and deal with accents or skin colour or how spaceships in the future work or other pointless bollocks). Abrams has taken an established bad guy and let it play out completely differently (with some great mirroring to the original unmentioned film/episode). Some have complained that is misses out on the thoughtful exploratory scifi that played a bigger role in the TV series. They have a point I suppose, but all Trek movies are on a bigger scale with more effects. That’s the point of them. Otherwise it is just a long episode in the cinema, which some of the later Next Gen films felt like.

I think Star Trek Into Darkness is bloody superb. It is fun, exciting and should please Trekkies (like me) and non-Trekkies alike (my wife loved it – although she has a thing for intelligent, sophisticated Englishmen). I think this ‘enjoyment by most people’ was the point. And it succeeds. Highly recommended.

In case you are undecided, here’s a trailer:

 

 

 

Wool Trilogy 1 by Hugh Howey

Wool by Hugh Howey

Wool by Hugh Howey is brilliant. I suggest you buy it now. See the link below for the US kindle version (most of my readers are in the US), and thank me later.

I really can’t write too much without giving away the story. Essentially, everyone lives underground in a giant silo in a post apocalyptic world. Every floor is large, with its own function, and there are over 100 floors. It’s pretty damn big. By why is everyone there? What has happened to humanity? And what the hell is with the weird taboos and the process known as ‘cleaning’?

The book slowly reveals the secrets of the silo and the world outside through a great cast of characters. At times it felt a bit like Lost, I was desperate to see what was really going on and what would happen next. Fortunately however, Wool also has a totally satisfying explanation.

I loved this book. It got me into one of those moods where I get massively excited when I realise I have an hour or two spare and can read.

To illustrate how good it is, I should mention Hugh Howey’s own story. In 2011, Howey was bored of his job and decided to write a scifi novella and self publish it on the kindle. It sold well, so he wrote four more. These sold even better. By the end of the five novellas (the er, trilogy), Ridley Scott had read it and optioned it for a film and Howey found himself a millionaire from digital sales alone. The publishers came along and, unbelievably, Howey managed to sell the rights to just the print version while keeping full rights to the digital kindle version. He now does very well indeed.

And it is totally justified. Wool, as I mentioned, is brilliant.

Buy Wool on kindle by click on this.

 

 

Ender’s Game movie trailer

Ender’s Game

Well, it seems to be happening and, like many of my friends, I’m a bit anxious. On the one hand, the Ender’s Game book by Orson Scott Card was incredible and I am fed up with being disappointed by movie adaptations which don’t do justification to their source material. On the other hand, sometimes the movies are good and this trailer looks frackin’ awesome!
http://youtu.be/vP0cUBi4hwE

Spy versus Guy

I saw this clip on www.io9.com and thought it was kind of fun. If a bit silly. It’s all about a bit of technology which falls into the hands of a pizza delivery guy. A super (but for some reason inept) spy is sent to get him. Think Wile E. Coyote meets one of the spies from, well, Spy vs Spy.

Not sure if this counts as scifi but I saw it on a scifi site and it has a robot pigeon.

Spy vs Guy from Red Giant on Vimeo.

 

Oblivion Review

Oblivion

Oblivion looks good and the story it is trying to tell places it in a genre I love – intelligent Science Fiction. You know, shit that makes you think. Stuff like: 2001, Moon, The Matrix, Solaris, even Total Recall. Sadly, although I really enjoyed it, it doesn’t quite succeed.

Here’s Oblivion’s plot: Tom Cruise and a ginger English lady are the last people on Earth and live in an awesome flat high off the surface. Previously there had been a war with some aliens called ‘the scavengers’ and we won! Yay us! Unfortunately, in order to win we had set off a load of nuclear bombs and fucked up the planet. Boo us! Consequently, everyone has legged it to Titan for some reason. Also for some reason we need to hoover up the oceans with giant machines in order to get hydrogen or energy for fusion or something. Which is weird as Titan probably has water already and space has loads of ice. Maybe I missed some bit of the explanation. It doesn’t really matter though.

In addition to the big ocean sucking machines, there are also scary, slightly psychopathic robots flying around that attack the remaining ‘Scavengers’. Tom and the ginger lady are there to make sure all the robots are working ok. They are a bit like Wall-E but without the rubbish or charm. Tom also has a lot of flashbacks to a woman on pre-war Earth, which is pretty baffling for all involved. Especially when he finds a pod with the woman inside.

THEN IT TURNS OUT THINGS AREN”T WHAT THEY SEEM! Oooooh…

That is pretty much all I can tell you without ruining the film.

Oblivion looks great and is well made. It is also fairly slow but I didn’t mind that. In fact, there could have been slightly less action and I would still have enjoyed it. At times the action felt like it was there because the test audiences wanted it to be 10% more exciting so they just whacked a few more explosions in. I guess the problem with the film is that I felt like I had seen a lot of it before. To be fair, I have read and seen a LOT of science fiction, so maybe it was just me. Also, the way Tom behaves toward the ginger lady and the way she behaves generally, struck me as a bit odd.

I forgot to mention that Morgan Freeman is in the film, but he doesn’t really do much. Which is a shame as I like Morgan Freeman.

Oblivion is a good film but not a great one. It’s well acted, well directed, and looks superb. I like the fact that it is trying to be a smart, thought provoking science fiction film. It’s just a shame that it feels a bit derivative of lots of other smart, thought provoking science fiction movies. It’s worth a watch though and there are some good bits in it. Here’s the trailer. Enjoy.
http://youtu.be/V_PBWtV1kRI

Elysium trailer

I seem to be posting a lot of trailers recently and for that I apologise. In my meagre defence I am currently on holiday. Also in my meagre defence this trailer looks like it might be brilliant. It is by Neill BlomKamp who made District 9. Which was brilliant. So here you go. Enjoy:
http://youtu.be/oIBtePb-dGY

Purge trailer

Here’s the idea. In the near future, America has near full employment and hardly any crime and everything is generally pretty ace. This is all because once a year, for one night only, nothing is illegal. So you can smoke weed, jaywalk, sleep with prostitutes and generally behave badly. Except for all the murders, it basically turns into Amsterdam for an evening.

Interesting premise, even though almost everything about it sounds massively unlikely. The trailer looks good and it has a great cast, so I suspect I’ll be watching it. Enjoy.
http://youtu.be/_eFmi1E3s3w
 

Help Crowdfund NASA video to play before new Star Trek. MAKE IT SO, DAMMIT!

NASA have made a very cool video about why we should go into space. It is achievements made in endeavours like this that make me proud to be a human. A feeling that we can be a pretty awesome species when we want to be. This feeling is soon banished when I watch the news or catch a glimpse of ANY reality show but it is nice while it lasts.

I won’t bang on about petty small minded pricks who think that space exploration money should all be spent on hospitals so they can be looked after when they are old and don’t care that future generations will suffer from overcrowding and lack of resources and- oh wait hang on, I did complain a bit. Anyway screw those people.

NASA want this inspiring humanity affirming clip to play before the new Star Trek into Darkness movie. They are crowdsourcing it which I guess would be of more interest to those few cities in the US that actually get to see the clip. Or maybe you think it’s such a good thing to inspire people that you want to chip in. You nice person you. Here is the crowdsource page: http://igg.me/at/adspace

If you just want to see the clip in full, then here you go. It’s voiced by Optimus Prime! Cool huh? Go humans!
http://youtu.be/e7DEw70LVWs