Aisle of the Damned: 8/11/16- Suicide is Aimless

Mom, my crayons melted

Bryan and Kent take on a mission with little chance of survival; they’re bringing you their thoughts on Warner Bros.’ latest DC offerings, the controversial-for-all-of-five-minutes-because-of-an-R-rating Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (The Ultimate Cut) and David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.

After discussing the showy failures of Squad, they also discuss the tempered rewards of the 13th film in the Star Trek franchise, Star Trek Beyond.

Plus, Kent talks about Jason Bourne and Lights Out and the fellas give their recommendations for the week, one DC related and one decidedly not.

All this and less on Aisle of the Damned!

Music:

The Aquabats– Stuck in a Movie
Death Hymn Number 9– I Reckon You Gonna Die

Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: Star Trek Into Darkness

The Dark Batch

Star Trek Into Darkness is a bit of a weird title. It comes across as a Wheel of Fortune ‘before and after’ puzzle. But, if we stretch the metaphor beyond breaking, that Wheel joke expresses the transitory nature of the story for the film.

You see, Kirk has been given permanent control of the Enterprise following his actions against the future Romulans in Abrams’ first Trek film. But he’s not the Kirk we know yet. He has not began his mission of exploration. Darkness has the unusual propensity to be the sequel to a sequel to the original franchise’s continuity that also functioned as an almost prequel. I sure can’t think of another franchise like it. It’s not like Mayday Parker showed up in the last Raimi Spider-Man and then went back in time to kickstart the Garfield flicks. That’s part of what made Trek XI so intriguing and what provides the frustration I felt for Trek XII.

Don’t get me wrong; I really had a great time with Darkness. Even if I did not like it as well as the previous film, it is still definitely in the upper tier of the franchise’s installments. The main issue is that they don’t seem to be taking the opportunity to be as original as they could be, perhaps because of the expectations that go along with the name. While the previous film absolutely had ways that it was reminiscent of other Trek entries, they found ways to make them different enough to feel fresh. Darkness, on the other hand, plays its homage so on the nose as to be distracting.

Trying to avoid spoilers for a film like this is priority, of course, and it can be tough to do when so much inference can be made due to rumor and innuendo, especially when it comes to an Abrams film. Abrams is so cryptic and secretive when it comes to even the most basic plot of his films that he could hold a birthday party and his invitations would read, “There is something going on somewhere on a  specific date and time. THERE WILL NOT BE CAKE.” This makes it very difficult to discuss specifics of many of his films without making people scream at you. This despite people literally going over every frame of the trailer trying to expose some nuance and glance something that would give away the story and any new characters that may appear. The thing is, Abrams also makes really, really good movies. Mission: Impossible III managed to resurrect a franchise that Tom Cruise had destroyed with his massive ego. Star Trek, which played in my particular theater right before Darkness as a double feature, is fantastic entertainment, especially on the big screen. Super 8 was my personal favorite movie of 2011. That’s how he gets away with it. And Star Trek Into Darkness is another notch in the “win” column, despite some glaring things that, while well done, made me roll my eyes a little bit. Like most of his films, it is a rollicking movie with lots of humor, great action sequences and an important character dynamic at its core.

In this case, the story is built around the budding relationship between Spock and Kirk. Since Kirk has had it made clear that he and Spock are intended to be the best bros since Paul Rudd and Jason Segel in I Love You, Man, he’s definitely making an effort to reach out to him. But since their friendship was jump-started as opposed to beginning organically, it has had many bumps and snags along the way. Kirk’s swagger and attempts to preserve life, even when it violates the prime directive (one of his more endearing characteristics held over from the TV series) and Spock’s rigidness collide, even when they are getting along. The way that the events of the previous film instruct their interplay is one of the biggest highlights of the film, as well as further integration of Karl Urban, whose McCoy remains absolutely spot-on without ever seeming like a caricature. Something he pulls off better than any other member of the cast, all of which thankfully return and will hopefully be coming back for many more incarnations.

New to the cast is Alice Eve, who was notable in Men in Black III, and she is possibly more fetching than in any of her other film roles. Her part is one of the ways in which the series is taking things in a new direction, one that could yield some positive results. The ever-dependable Peter Weller, as a senior member of Starfleet, adds some gravitas to the cast. Also coming aboard is Benedict Cumberbatch, fantastic as always, though his casting is admittedly questionable. His role is the one that has been speculated about the most and I wouldn’t dare bring up how he fits into the plot. What I will say is, if you’re a fan of his from his previous work such as Sherlock, you should come away happy with his work.

It’s not often that I love and am frustrated by a movie at the same time, but this is one of them. I’m trying to decide who it was made for; the parallels and abundant references are obviously only things that a Trek fan would get, but the story feels like it would perhaps play out better for a newbie that just came on board with the previous film.

(Three and a half out of five stars)

Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: Dredd

Dredd will not stand for this graffiti.

Dredd is the best John Carpenter movie in the last twenty-plus years.

The only problem with that statement is the fact that Dredd is directed by a fellow by the name of Pete Travis. However, if the film isn’t deeply inspired to its core by films such as Escape from New York and Assault on Precinct 13, I am the proverbial monkey’s uncle. It perfectly captures that kind of post-apocalyptic thrill ride zeitgeist that Carpenter brought to just-this-side-of-respectable exploitation fare from the late 70s up through the 80s.

The story centers around Star Trek and Lord of the Rings’ Karl Urban as the eponymous Judge Dredd, taking out a new recruit (Olivia Thrilby) into the 800 million sized Mega City One (taking up nigh the entire eastern seaboard of the former U.S.) for a trial run. While out investigating a multiple homicide, the Judges stumble upon a large-scale drug operation run by Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). She decides to trap the judges in her 200-floor slum-as-building, proceeding to hunt them down and protect her fledgling empire.

The uberviolent romp that follows is Die Hard in the ghetto. The destitute folks within the ironically named “Peach Tree” building hide in their homes, driven more by fear of the powerful drug lord than for their duty as citizens to help law enforcement. Yet many of them still can’t escape the crossfire as Ma-Ma gives unique meaning to the term “overkill.” What could inspire this amount of carnage and bloodshed?

The narcotic in question, Slo-Mo, makes its user feel like the world is moving at a fraction of its actual speed, leading to some neat 3D effects that seem halfway out of a hallucinogenic National Geographic documentary. Considering the darkness of the film, the 3D works surprisingly well altogether and is in the same league as Prometheus in the use of the extra dimension. Assuming you’re okay with the fact that it is being used for some pretty gory effects, because the film does not shy away from showing the insides of people being moved to the outside.

The biggest and most pleasant surprise (aside from the fact that it’s quite good, following the stinkfest that was the previous attempt to film the character) is Olivia Thrilby’s vulnerable, yet no nonsense and somewhat badass portrayal of Judge Anderson, a young woman imbued with psychic powers, having the ultimate worst first day on the job. Known almost exclusively for her role as Juno’s best friend and a few secondary roles in romantic comedies, the performances could not be more different. Hopefully it will lead to some more featured roles, because she kills it. (Literally and figuratively.)

Urban, meanwhile, gives an absolutely fantastic and egoless performance as he Boba Fett’s his way through the film, never removing his helmet. He is a pinnacle of black and white moral authority, cracking off verbal tweaks and repeating his mantras about the law.

All in all, Dredd is an absolute blast, completely eradicating the bad taste from pop culture’s mouth. If there is any real justice, Dredd will become a cult hit, playing for years on cable, midnight screenings and home ‘video.’

(Three and a half stars out of Five)