Double Feature: Star Trek: Beyond (2016) & Baby Driver (2017)

double feature

We are nearing the end of the year which means I’m going to try to get a lot of these backlogged movies reviewed. While I did write a review over on Weibo for Baby Driver already, I haven’t done one here and I’m not going to lie that Star Trek Beyond was a few months ago so its starting to get a little blurry.

Star Trek: Beyond (2016)

Star Trek Beyond

Director: Justin Lin

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim

The crew of the USS Enterprise explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy, who puts them, and everything the Federation stands for, to the test. –IMDB

After the last Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness (review), I had my reservations about this one. For one, the first and the second had this conflict in tone and humor. There was this narrative that worked but the villains felt underused or not quite as effective. Thinking back now, it felt like a fairly unsatisfying and forgettable movie experience save for some of the returning cast who had roles which were quite fun to watch. Star Trek Beyond however takes a different approach. It may have to do with the fact that Simon Pegg doesn’t only appear in the film but also does the writing for this one. It also helps that Justin Lin, a director that I like a lot in the Fast and Furious franchise takes the helms of this sequel. A lot of the factors makes this one such a fun and entertaining movie experience that reminds me a lot of the fun I had in the first Star Trek film.

Star Trek Beyond resumes the familiar roles. Its a good thing because for those who have been following the franchise, its a nice little team that we know the personality of. There is this well-oiled machine dynamic despite the issues they encounter. Everyone delivers it very well. I completely had forgotten that John Cho was in this as well especially since I had just seen him in Searching (when I saw this movie in August or something..Searching review here). Then of course, we have Anton Yelchin that is still such a huge loss in my heart because he is so incredibly talented. However, I think what deserves a mention here are the new additions. The first is the girl on the planet they land on called Jayla, played by Sofia Boutella who has such a fantastic character design appearance wise and her weapons and Sofia Boutella does a great job. On top of that, mostly unrecognizable except for his voice is Idris Elba who plays the villain, Krall. He still feels a little underused but the presence is very much there.

Baby Driver (2017)

baby driver

Director (and writer): Edgar Wright

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Lily James, Eiza Gonzalez, Kevin Spacey

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail. – IMDB

Every once in a while we get a new gimmick and it works for some and doesn’t work for others. Baby Driver utilizes the constant soundtrack in Baby’s life to  work around it. It starts off fairly fun and charming, if a little odd especially when he turns on the wipers for no reason but to match the lyrics or sounds or something. There is a charm to it all. However, Baby Driver reminds us how sometimes soundtracks are used sparingly for a reason because it accentuates a scenes. As clever as the idea itself and how the execution works in some parts, it doesn’t translate to everything. There is no doubt that the soundtrack is really good, except I would have liked to not be overloaded with music so much.

Baby Driver

As charmed as I was with the use of music and soundtracks and how that was executed well enough, the story here is fairly basic. Its actually not even very fleshed out for any of the characters. Its almost like the gimmick is the reason for the whole thing. The action sequences are done pretty good though and the bombastic characters played by Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez and Jamie Foxx all are quite memorable. When things get dicey though, the characters are really just shells and the story is pretty much on rails following everything as expected and predicted.

Is it as awesome as it seems to be for a lot of people? For myself, I don’t really think its that well-rounded. There are aspects that stand out and as much as I like the music and cars and this one delivers two things I love, it somehow outlived its hype. Its not a bad idea and its a fun little experience but somehow it just lost its charm in the second half.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)

Hello, everyone! I finally made my way to the theatres thanks to a very lovely  Cineplex week of cheap Tuesday price all week long! I just had to take the opportunity to go and since I’ve been wanting to see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation since forever, this was the perfect time to go! I went with my friend on Wednesday night, ran over there after work and made it just in time with a little bit of time before TimePlay started.

There was only 3 people playing TimePlay but I got 1st place! Woohoo! 😉

So, allow me to do a rant before we start this review so I can get this off my chest! If you don’t want to read it, simply scroll down and start reading where the poster starts 🙂

Some of you that have been reading a good bit of my reviews know that my theater visits have been…eventful.  I mean, when I went to go see Gravity, there was a dog in the theater.  That’s an extreme case.  This time around, I had to be extremely proud of myself for controlling my urge to toss my apple juice bottle at the couple sitting like 4 seats away.  I have no issues with young couples.  I’m even cool with PDA.  BUT, the theater is NOT your living room.  You do not commentate in a voice that you think is whispering but I can hear throughout the movie, especially in the quiet talking parts.  Two, you can make out on your living room couch but not the theater even if its in your dark little corner especially when your f**king seats creek every single time you shift.  Subtlety is your best friend in that situation.  I kid you not, these two love birds were non-stop the whole time.  When the movie was in their discussion part, no music, quiet, I could hear them even clearer and those lip smacks and that vibe of, “I want to rip your clothes off right here and then” was travelling straight at me a few seats away.  So no, if you intend on being inappropriate, don’t go to the theater, wait for the damn movie and rent it.  Then you can do whatever you so wish and NO ONE will give a crap! If you do decide to go to the theater, then have the common courtesy and shut the f**k up! You might not give a shit about the $7 spent on this movie but I went to see a movie, not hear you smooch and chat and comment and whatever else all that noise was. RANT OVER!

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin

Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF. – IMDB

 The Mission Impossible series fell a little short for me in the middle but it sure did pick itself up in the last one, Ghost Protocol.  Now, that one had me all pumped about this one.  Sure, Tom Cruise went a little cray-cray with his scientology but there is no doubt that he is a respectable action star.  One that doesn’t seem to be leaving this world of adrenaline pumped scenes.  And Rogue Nation is full on proof that his stunts are more and more dangerous every time.  Excuse me as I catch my breath just thinking about a few of the scenes. As disturbing as my theatre neighbors were, they only ruined my movie experience and not so much the movie.  Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is a lot of high octane, adrenaline rush, blood pumping fun rolled in with some fantastic moments that kind of break the intensity a little.  In parts that you probably shouldn’t laugh, they give us a reason to just relax for a sec. That is all thanks to a wonderful cast that mesh so well together.

mission impossible rogue nation

Tom Cruise is the star here but there is no doubt that his IMF team is equally great.  Benji, played by Simon Pegg is hilarious all the time.  When he is scared, he makes us laugh even more.  And then we have the absolutely stylishly cool but funny one liners in Ving Rhames.  Making up for the authority in the IMF is Jeremy Renner who has a much smaller part this time but whenever he shows up, he makes up for some good laughs.

mission impossible rogue nation

 This time, we toss Alec Baldwin in the mix as CIA essentially dissolves IMF and then takes over their people and is this authority that really doesn’t believe much.  But he definitely isn’t the highlight.  New addition highlight goes to the new girl Ilsa, played by Rebecca Ferguson who not only is pretty and sexy but also a rather good actress and has some really great action scenes. I guess we can’t talk about her and not talk about our bad guy in this installment, Solomon Kane, the mystery man behind the elusive Syndicate that is played by Sean Harris. While I was not exactly sure about him and his bad guy role, I think as a villain, he was convincing enough mostly because we never really knew who he was and even when he was around, it was never long enough to figure him out completely.  That sort of mystery keeps the plot going as to what the Syndicate is and who this man is and what in the world he is after.

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

What we can’t ignore is that while the characters are fun and entertaining or twisty and mysterious, there is no denying that the sets they did and the location they chose were fantastic.  The shots are just so nice to look at whether its in London or Venice or wherever else they went.  The mood fit what they wanted to do.  Everything worked very well together.

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Overall, Mission Impossible Rogue Nation is a lot of fun.  The IMF crew with Ethan Hunt, Brandt, Benji, and group are as always funny and entertaining.  Their chemistry is really great.  The new additions are nice as well.  I kind of think that the villain could’ve been a little better but what he represents was mysterious enough to keep me guessing what the end goal was. Best of all, the action sequences are intense and dangerous, exactly what we expect Tom Cruise to do and he delivers those adrenaline filled sequences remarkably. Its the fifth outing for Mission Impossible and I’ve got to say that I really look forward and hope to see a sixth installment.

Have you seen Mission Impossible Rogue Nation? What did you think about it? 

The Boxtrolls (2014)

The Academy Awards are just this coming Sunday and while I’ve been planning to get a bunch of nominated movies a watch since a month ago, I haven’t had the chance.  I did get one watched the weekend following the nominations announcement but I never got around to writing about it.  Well, finally with one week left, I’m going to aim to get 6 movies I have available to be watched and reviewed.

The first one I chose on a late Friday night (weeks ago) was The Boxtrolls.  Animated feature categories are always the ones that I know best because I’ve seen more of them.  After this one, I’d have seen 3 of 5 in the animated features category. I doubt I’ll find Princess Kaguya or Song of the Sea though. If you’d like to check out Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2, you can find them HERE and HERE respectively. Regardless, lets check out what I thought about this one.

The Boxtrolls


Director: Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi

Voice cast: Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Isaac Hampstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg

 A young orphaned baby, Eggs (Isaac Hampstead Wright) is taken in by the underground trash collectors called The Boxtrolls.  Brought up by Fish, the closest thing he had to his father, he’s always assumed he was a boxtroll, even if he was a little different.  However, as he turns into a boy and soon realizes the dangers of being a boxtroll, the main one being hunted down by a man, Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) and his crew.  Right at the most unexpected time, he runs into the mayor’s daughter, Winnie (Elle Fanning) who not only makes him realize that he is actually a boy but tries to help him despite her ignorant father, Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) who only cares about cheese.

the boxtrolls

The Boxtrolls was one of my most anticipated of 2014 but unfortunately, I didn’t end up going to see it in theatres.  The concept of the Boxtrolls and the whole stop motion animation is something I absolutely love.  I’m a huge fan of Coraline and Paranorman and these are the same guys who did it.  The teaser trailer did so much good because it was just these adorable men that transformed into boxes.  Except as the official trailer came out, I started becoming a little bit more lukewarm to this idea.  Now, the question is how does it actually do?

The Boxtrolls has very beautiful visuals in the whole stop animation way with its little details and the world of Cheesebridge and each of the quirky characters are just so fun.  There is definitely a lot of entertainment to be had with this.  I always like the concept of a boy who doesn’t realize he’s actually a boy but something else. The whole learning to be civilized is absolutely hilarious. On top of that, the voice work here is awesome.

the boxtrolls

Right off the bat, Ben Kingsley has one of the best voices and he does the main villain, Archibald Snatcher.  One of the most compelling parts of a story like that is having a convincing and capable villain.   While Archibald Snatcher is nasty and destructive, he’s also pretty funny because he wants to be something that he’s not exactly able to become.  I mean, eating cheese is defined as being upper class but he’s allergic.  Then he’s matched up with these hilarious sidekicks with two of them voiced by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who are one of the best comedic teams ever. With them in here, you know that despite it still being a little dark, its definitely lesser than Paranorman and Coraline and a lot of laughter for adults.

the boxtrolls

For the kids, there are still some decent laughs.  Thats where the whole voice work for Eggs and Winnie come in, plus the boxtrolls themselves.  Its a very innocent group because they live underground and search up trash to sustain themselves. Fish bringing up Eggs have some really heartwarming and chuckling worthy moments. While Eggs being exposed to human interaction and Winnie’s appearance also merits a lot of fun times.  Plus, there’s a good bit of adventure when the chases are happening between the Boxtrolls Exterminators and the group of Boxtrolls themselves. It adds some tension and action while keeping it fun and silly also.

Overall, The Boxtrolls boasts a good balance of quirky and witty story telling along with some very nice visuals.  There are fun characters and the dialogue is suitable for both adult and children.  Its a fun adventure movie with some cute creative creations while the humans still add a fun twist with all the cheese puns, or shall I say, cheesy puns? 😉 I suck at this pun business so forget I even said it.

Personally, I think Big Hero 6 and even How to Train Your Dragon 2 is stronger than The Boxtrolls overall and it has more of an impact.  Still, I can’t ignore that The Boxtrolls are incredibly imaginative from the city of Cheesebridge to the funny and heartwarming characters up to the amazing voice work from everyone breathing life into this animation.  Like I said, I have yet to see Princess Kaguya and Song of the Sea but if anything, the visuals of Song of the Sea seem incredibly awesome.  There’s some nice animated nominations here and I really wonder who will win it this year.

Have you seen The Boxtrolls? What are your thoughts on it? Are you a fan of stop motion animation? 

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Because I started the recommendations on the second week of August, I decided to do one more week to make it a solid month of recommendations 🙂 Next up, we have Natasha at Film and Things with her suggestion to see Shaun of the Dead.  I’ve been meaning to see this a long time as I’m a huge fan of zombie movies.

shaun of the dead posterDirector:  Edgar Wright

Cast: Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy

Shaun (Simon Pegg) lives with two friends, Pete and Ed (Nick Frost).  Ed doesn’t really do much, doesn’t have a lot of friends and doesn’t get along with Pete and relies heavily on Shaun.  However, Shaun’s girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) doesn’t want her life to continue in the same boring pattern and when he fails to comply, she decides to leave him.  Right at this time, Shaun decides to pick up his life and get back Liz when the world is attacked with a possible zombie apocalypse. He decides its his chance to show that he can make something of himself by saving the day and he proceeds to protect his mom and stepfather (Bill Nighy) and also protect Liz and her two friends,Dianne (Lucy Davis) and David (Dylan Moran).

shaun of the dead group

I’m a huge fan of British horror (or British anything).  However, I did learn that as much as Hot Fuzz was a decent movie, I wasn’t so interested in it so I was a bit reluctant to watch this.  Shaun of the Dead is possibly 1000 times better than Hot Fuzz in my opinion.  Its funny and crazy entertaining.  There was some shots where you can tell they were trying to build a bit of intensity and man, those zombies looked pretty good.  If they didn’t mix in such a good amount of hilarious moments, I’d actually might have been a bit creeped out.

shaun of the dead shaun ed

Shaun of the Dead is led by a great cast.  I love Simon Pegg.  His humor is totally out of the world.  In this, he leads some of the best laughs and his bromance sort of relationship with Nick Frost’s Ed is just hilarious.  Plus, he has awesome expressions and reactions.  The dialogue in this was witty and sarcastic at times which really worked for me. Moreover, Bill Nighy is amazing all the time in big or smaller roles and he was in this and I found it funny as always!

shaun of the dead zombies

Seriously though, do you really need me to tell you how awesome Shaun of the Dead is? I’m pretty sure everyone already knows about it seeing as almost everyone went to see The World’s End this summer.  BUT if you really do, I really recommend it extremely highly.  You should definitely give this original, witty and fun movie a go and I’m pretty sure you will like to some degree.

A huge thanks to Natasha for telling me to watch this because it was totally awesome and she is awesome as she just completed her short film One Bitten, Twice Shy.  You really should check out her fantastic trailer that she put together :). You can check out more info on her short film HERE.

Have you seen this yet? Are you a fan? Did you go see The World’s End? How would you rank Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End?

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Star Trek Into Darkness is one of my most anticipated releases of 2013 and last night I finally got well enough and suppressed my cold enough to head out and catch it.  May is a tight month so there is no missing out on this week’s because next week we have Fast and Furious 6 to see.  Back on track, I really wanted Star Trek to succeed because I’m not much of a Star Trek fan ever but the first one surprised me so much and I fell in love with it.  Its one of my absolute favorite movies.  Lets see how Into Darkness went…

star trek into darkness poster 2Director: J.J Abrams

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Weller, Alice Eve

When Starfleet is under attack by one of their own, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is sent to take his team First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto), Lieutenant Uhara (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin).  They set off under the orders of the admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) with their newest advanced weapons of torpedos to go to a deemed uninhabited area of the Klingon planet to hunt and terminate the fugitive (Benedict Cumberbatch).  However, the challenge is to try to avoid war with Klingons or head to head challenge.  When Captain Kirk decides to change his plans and capture the fugitive instead to further investigate the situation and to attempt to avoid starting war with Klingons during their sudden appearance while their spaceship is under maintenance to regain full power and capability, things start turning bad.  The situation gets a lot more serious and it turns into determining who is the friend and who is the enemy?

Thats a crazy vague synopsis in my opinion but for some of you who haven’t gone to see it yet, I’m trying to keep all the surprises for yourself to discover.  You know why? Because this movie deserved every ounce of it.

star trek 2 london explosion

Unlike the first one, Star Trek didn’t have that same beginning that impacted me to just get drawn into the movie.  This one starts off still in an intense sequence but is slower to lead you to the actual plot.  You can tell right away that there’s a darker concept to the whole story.  Its about Captain Kirk learning how to be himself but also thinking about the consequences and his crew.  Its a story about right and wrong and possibly honor and family.

star trek into darkness kirk scotty

Above everything, this is an action sci-fi thriller.  I’m not a big fan of sci-fi but Star Trek has me hooked.  This one lacked a bit in the beginning sequence but when it finally picked up after 15-20 minutes later, it was non-stop action that had me at the edge of my seat.  My eyes were literally glued to the screen waiting to see how Kirk would react, what logically correct thing Spock would say, what comeback Scotty would have and everyone else on the starship.  The team that we came to love and became familiar with in the first one.  I love movies that manage to keep the same cast from lead to supporting and simply adding a few other characters to help the story along.  Alice Eve’s role was quite good and I think she will be a great addition if there are any future Star Trek movies.

star trek into darkness kirk uhara spock

The villain in this one was so complicated.  It was also what had the twists and surprises at every corner.  The fugitive was Khan played by Benedict Cumberbatch.  I haven’t seen this guy before but he sure looked all kinds of sinister and evil.  He was crazy manipulating. I have to say that he was a pretty awesome villain because for a moment there, I started wondering if he really was a bad guy. There just seemed to be a deeper part to his story.

star trek 2 kirk khan spock

I could’ve described Star Trek Into Darkness with just a few words.  INTENSE, ACTION-PACKED, THRILLING, FUN! This is definitely right now the best movie of 2013 so far.  It always surprises me how I get nervous about seeing it and it always kicks some serious ass! I love coming out of a movie and being so happy and fulfilled as I was with this one!! I’m definitely recommending this one.  Its one you don’t want to miss this summer 🙂