Sunday, 19 May 2013


Okay, three Science Fiction movies, all dependent to an extent on what has gone before. Some spoilers, none too serious, will  inevitably follow though I doubt if any will come as a serious surprise to anyone who is remotely interested in them.

The good-
the bad-
and the frankly irrelevant-
albeit aesthetically pleasing.

Not as good as the first film which reinvented the Star Trek universe by changing the past. That doesn't, however, mean that similar things don't occur. But in this new universe, Starfleet is more militaristic and war is looming with the Klingons.Against this background, a rogue Starfleet officer John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) commits acts of terrorism and buggers off to a planet in Klingon territory with Kirk & co in hot pursuit. Harrison is (and this really is no surprise and it's given away in IMDB's credits for the film) the genetically created superhuman Khan (as in the movie Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan).

While it has its moments and it's certainly well made, I didn't like it as much as the first film. Simon Pegg's Scotty I just found irritating and I normally like Pegg. Alice Eve (see above) is all right and the bra and panties shot (see above) is just purely gratuitous and serves no purpose other than to titillate teenage males and a sixty-four year old blogger. There's not enough Uhura  thereby largely wasting the talents and beauty of Zoe Saldana.

But Benedict Cumberbatch is just brilliant as the villain. He exhudes menace, power, and authority and wipes the floor with anyone else onscreen with him. After this movie Hollywood will be at his feet. Thankfully he's more interested in good parts than money, though he's probably quite comfortably off by now, and has shown a canny eye for good roles like this one.

ST:ID isn't a bad movie and there's always plenty going on, it's just not as good as I was hoping for.

Is this a prequel to Alien? That was the question everyone was asking before it came out.

Spoiler answer: yes, it is. And it's a very good prequel to Alien. It not only provides the origin of the repulsive space monster we all love to go yeeurgh! at but also the origin of life on many worlds and human intelligence on ours.

Noomi Rapace (excellent) and her boyfriend find evidence that pinpoints the location of an alien race they call The Engineers and an expedition is mounted by Weyland Corp to go there. There's the usual mixed bunch of characters who are basically cannon fodder plus Michael Fassbender as an android. They believe, because of the planted evidence, that the Engineers will welcome their long-lost lost children. What they find is a bleak world, a massive building containing lots of dead dessicated bodies and that the Engineers are not what they thought. Neither is the building as lifeless as it first seems; cue lots of gruesome deaths.

Basically this a very grim piece of SF which fills in the background of the Alien universe and does in an intelligent, if rather gory, way. Ridley Scott amps up the suspense, piles on the twists (like where the hell is Guy Pearce who gets major billing in the opening credits), and builds to a climax in which humanity as a whole is threatened.

Great stuff. Just don't expect many laughs.

Karl Urban is Judge Dredd and, unlike Sylvester Stallone in the previous ill-thought of, but I rather enjoyed it, movie, Urban never removes his helmet.

This film is pared down to its basics. Dredd and a rookie Judge are trapped in a massive high-rise run by a ruthless gang of drug-runners led by Ma-Ma (a scarred and frankly terrifying Lena Headey). To get out, they have to destroy the gang. Cue lots of brutal bloody violence and lots of bad language that would never have been seen in 2000AD the original British weekly comic in which Dredd originated. (Though let's face it, we all knew what Drokk! really meant.)

There are only three characters who matter: Dredd, Ma-Ma, and Judge Anderson (a telepathic rookie on her first and possibly last day as Judge and excellently played by Olivia Thirlby).

For those who don't know, Judges are police, judge, jury, and executioner. When Dredd says, "I am the Law," he means it. No mercy, no compromise. This really is a nasty violent narrow-focus brutal piece of SF cinema. Yes, you're right, I loved it and really hope there's a sequel.

You really don't mess with this Ma-Ma.

Will she survive her first day on the job?
Hard to believe, but this man is not as nice as he looks.

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