Star Trek: Into Darkness & The World's End

Camwhore


The kissass protestations of a man desperate to get into the idiotic Star Wars franchise he was so instrumental at mocking.
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Reported on 7th of August, 2013

Jesus, do I really have bash JJ Abrams again? Yes, and certainly this could be a part of the long postponed article about IMAX and digital and 3D, which is around 10,000 words at this point. And yes, certainly Star Trek: Into Darkness is as terrible as the trailer made it seem, which I would propose is lower mediocre.

Star Trek: Into Darkness

26 May 2013 @ The Universal Citywalk IMAX


-$50.00 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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I lost my notes, but I remember 1) As portions of it were shot in IMAX, I did have to see it, and my only chance to do so in IMAX was at the Universal City Citywalk. I learned that Mr. Abrams should not be allowed near an IMAX camera, which he shakes and constantly intercuts back and forth with 35 (technically DLP), and 2) nothing else.

To explain even further, I saw the trailer for Man of Steel here, which contained the actual IMAX footage I was not to see in the actual IMAX at the BFI in London. It was great for two reasons. It looked good, and it meant I hadn't seen Man of Steel, so I did not yet know that it was the worst film of the year. Strangely, though Star Trek: ID is infinitely blander, it will get the lower rating because of the actual cost. I'm nothing if not an economist. So I'm nothing. So what?

There wasn’t even time to go to the giant tourist candy store. I didn’t, but should have, taken off for that.

God, it was so piercingly unmemorable, filled with more meaningless trailer moments than the actual trailer. I saw the trailer for Man of Steel here, which contained the actual IMAX footage I was not to see in the actual IMAX at the BFI in London. It was great for two reasons. It looked good, and it meant I hadn’t seen Man of Steel, so I did not yet know that it was the worst film of the year. Strangely, though Star Trek: ID is infinitely blander, it will get the lower rating because of the actual cost. I’m nothing if not an economist. So I’m nothing.

At some point, Kirk dies saving the Enterprise, and then is instantly brought back to life. Wow, that’s the kind of sacrifice someone who really understands how hard it is to wait in line at Starbucks. I mean for my manager’s assistant. Poor girl.

Star Trek: Into Darkness

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Profits!
Honestly, I don’t remember a single thing.
$0.00
Total Profits
$0.00
Losses!
Even the bad parts. I’m pretty sure nothing happened.
$0.00
Here’s the deal, though. I paid $20 for the ticket…
$20.00
…and $30 for valet parking. Technically speaking it cost me $50. Cough it up, Paramount.
$30.00
Total Losses
$50.00

-$50.00

Camwhore, Part II

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To explain, besides being late, and needing valet parking, it was explained to me that I could get validation from the movie theater, as long as the stay was under 2 hours. Sadly the Universal Citywalk does not show films from the 1950s.

To explain, besides being late, and needing valet parking, it was explained to me that I could get validation from the movie theater, as long as the stay was under 2 hours. Sadly the Universal Citywalk does not show films from the 1950s.

Even so, I’ve really said all I can say about Mr. Abrams, at least for 3pm on a Saturday. Okay, on this Saturday. So it is now time, and it’s about time, to bash Mr. Simon Pegg for, well, being humorless. It all started, non-chronologically of course, when I was reading about the lens flare bit that came up on the internet. Non-chronologically because first I read an interview with Mr. Pegg being a big baby, without an inkling as to which diamond encrusted bottle had been taken from his manager’s assistant. In other words, I was angry, I just had to find out why. Think about it: the alternative was not being angry.

Ironic given the filmmakers in question, we will go in chronological order: Mr. JJ Abrams was born, avoided my various attempts to travel through time and kill him, and made Star Trek. During the filming of which, there was what can only be called a compulsive use of the lens flare to distract people from the fact that there is no filmmaking going on. Shiny…literally! In a ribbing as gentle as say, a Simon Pegg movie, some one mocked them for same, and not for, I don’t know, making one of the most hateful movies of all time. You can see it here.

Despite my singular opinion/factual observation, Star Trek not only went on to be financially successful but to be critically popular, enough to have that weird Kevin Bacon quality: the movie that always rates highest on the tomato meter in every actor’s career, even Mr. Pegg’s. Like any perfect success, and suspecting, correctly, that it was a sham, Mr. Pegg lashed out at the Unbelievers:

It demonstrates JJ’s supreme talent as a film maker that the main means of knocking him is to magnify a throw away artistic choice, into some sort of hilarious failing.

Now let’s think about this for a moment. It’s fine, kind of funny really, when someone like Mr. Samuel Jackson is imbued with the massive critical and commercial success Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, and yet cannot tolerate the single nail standing up and ruining the line on his bird’s-eye maple action-figure cabinet. But here we are talking about Mr. Simon Pegg, who made his bones viciously, and proportionally, taking down Episodes 1 through 3 in Spaced. He and Mr. Edgar Wright would go on to lightly send up the various zombie and cop films in the affable, but let’s face facts and admit only vaguely okay Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Like a blue-jean communist, however, it was only a matter of time before his true desires were revealed when the even-worse-than-Episode-1 Star Trek (Kirk drives a priceless car off a cliff! What a great way to introduce a villain!

He’s what now?),

came along, (and yes, I just interrupted a sentence with two paragraph breaks and now this parenthetical to talk about the interruption) and he said ‘I was only kidding about kidding.’

Girl likes boy (and vice versa, and versa versa, and vice vice).

These kissass protestations of a man desperate to get into, that’s right, the idiotic Star Wars franchise he was so instrumental at mocking are depressing enough, but it seems here like the sour grapes of someone who’s drinking a very nice bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. If you made a decent, or even a pretty bad, genre movie, and some critics lambast you for not making an art movie, you’re not going to have this kind of exaggerated reaction unless you’re Hr. Uwe Boll. But he did make an art film, so fair enough.

In the case of Star Trek, a movie that everybody but me, and anyone who’s seen it twice, likes, even the smallest amount of criticism must be crushed. Like Apple, Mr. Pegg is moving from his innovator phase to his litigious one. He’s still full of rage, but instead of his target being the bloated blockbusters, it’s the audience members that used to be him.

The World's End

21 July 2013 @ The Cineworld Brighton


-$0.50 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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And we could have left it at Simon Pegg, camwhore, but, having seen The World’s End, I just feel sorry for him. You know, like Apple. It’s a genial film, inoffensive in the worst possible way. It unfolds and then it stops, with the kind of producer’s notes placeholders we’ve accepted now make up actual dialog. Is it his own exposure to success-which-will-lead-to-his-downfall-teaching-him-a-valuable-lesson? Probably. I mean he was in How to Lose Friends & Alienate People. Which explains why he didn’t see it.

I would say that the semi-failure of The World’s End is a product of the way his own work depends so much on mocking the films he is now in. It seems unsure if it’s parody, genuine or xerox. Insert, and so they did, the tired quick symmetrical cuts of beer being drawn. When Edgar Wright copies Quentin Tarantino copying Guy Ritchie, it really is the apocalypse.

In an effort to see everything...

In an effort to see everything…

But with geniality there is some sweetness, and I was especially interested in when I was, well, interested. The film clarified the strong difference between mechanical motivations and relatable ones. The World’s End is about recreating a adolescent pub crawl, which is pretty good story, but kind of mechanical. It’s like a serial killer whose mother threw out his board games and so he re-creates an evil Chutes and Ladders game (why do I feel like this will actually happen on the inevitable season 46 of Criminal Minds?) leaving our erstwhile police to say, very, very, very late in the proceedings…’Board games…he’s trying to re-create, oh I can’t do this anymore (walks off set)’. As with the pub crawl, we get it, and we watch it, and while can see why the characters are doing things, we can’t feel it.

This becomes especially confusing when we learn aliens, or whatever they were are taking over English towns, which is another bit of not especially relatable story. When they don’t match, as in, ‘we have to keep going on our pub crawl or they’ll catch on to us’, followed by, and this is true, inasmuch as fiction is true, which is not at all, but followed by, ‘they know we’re onto them; we have to keep going on the pub crawl’. This is a motivational mis-match, the by-product of so many film dependent on the Deus, but it occurs to me that this is why these films tend to be boring.

There is, alternatively, and almost as a throw away, the story of a boy who liked a girl, and, twenty years later, meets her again. This motivation (kiss the girl/boy) works. It’s simple and more to the point, relatable. The false motivations don’t work, as indicated by dialog that explains them to the audience. On one hand, we instantly stop identifying with them because they’re idiots, but it goes beyond that. We don’t identify with them because what they’re doing doesn’t make any earthly sense. Girl likes boy (and vice versa, and versa versa, and vice vice) is not just simple, it’s relatable and instant, and works across the board in good and evil characters.

It occurs to me that relatable motivations may be the most important part of the experience, more important than plot (coming from someone who only talks about plot), and weirdly more important than character. There’s a thingy in cognitive psychology, as I terrifyingly bring in my PhD: state or trait. There’s an overriding focus on trait in film (as in the bland everyman character), but what really matters is what Hitchcock understood so well: that it’s the state that matters. We feel connections, possibly exclusively, to relatable motivations (revenge, money, pride, sex, revenge for excessive pridesex etc.), even if the characters are horrible. In designing characters, better to err on the side of evil in the trait department, and the side of good in the state department, which may be a recipe for world peace as well.

Gentle word play. Mr. Pegg would approve.

Which leads us to the real problem with the film, and it’s quite a bit less tangible. It’s not really that funny. If the jokes are working, or the characters are running around, or something is happening, I’m not going to be taking notes about what is or isn’t relatable motivation. It doesn’t help that they violated not just the basic rule of comedy, but of common sense, one wacky character, with four, that’s right, four identical straight men. He’s got a job and a conventional life that could be put at risk, but he’s an everyday guy, whose conventional life could be vaguely threatened, while the other guy has a…oh never mind (walks off internet).

The Take: The World’s End

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Profits!
The girl/boy story works.
$1.00
Here’s something weird: the pub crawl works, but only when Mr. Pegg has gone totally insane. Once he has no reason to do it, then we believe him. Yes, I contradicted what I said before. So I’m going to give myself an extra dollar.
$3.00
Starbucking is a great concept for a movie…
$1.00
Total Profits
$5.00
Losses!
…make it again.
$0.50
Tropes. They’re references! They don’t have to be funny!
Guys shoulder to shoulder walking towards the camera in slow motion (@$1.00 each)
$2.00
Faces. Cut. Sound. Faces. Cut. Sound.
$1.00
Weak ass fight scenes. Yeah, you lose points for that.
$1.00
Total Losses
$5.50

-$0.50

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