Star Trek Beyond (2016)

I had the chance to watch the newest Star Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond, at an early screening this past week. I like the new movies. I never watched the shows or the old movies, so I’m coming into Star Trek as a brand new fan. I always enjoy watching the movies, in part because the cast is great, but I find that there is a really persistent problem with movie franchises and developing villains very poorly (looking | at | you, Marvel) and expecting audiences to not mind. I can barely remember the villains for the previous Star Trek films (even amidst the big reveal/controversy with Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan for the last one!) and there’s a reason for that. And I’ll talk about that later.

But TL;DR I really had a lot of fun watching this movie, from beginning to end! Justin Lin did a really great job directing this one. (This fantastic Wired write-up will do a better job of telling you why than I can.) I really loved watching Beyond, because when you have a great director and a great cast, it’s really hard to go wrong. (Also, sorry JJ, but I do not miss the lens flares.)

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Nerve (2016)

When Annie told me she had tickets to see Nerve early, I was pretty meh about the whole thing. I was a little nervous because it is marketed as a thriller, and my heart can’t always handle thrillers! But I love Dave Franco and Emma Roberts has solidified herself in my heart thanks to her meme-fame.

You know how this one starts, right?

I’ll try to keep this short and spoiler-free (although I will mention things that are in the trailer I include below), but I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and found it to be better than it was set up to be. (Also, if you are a fan of Orange Is the New Black, there are 2 recognizable inmates in this movie!)

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Me Before You (2016)

The only Nicholas Sparks movie I’ve seen in its entirety is A Walk to Remember because of course. I have never been particularly interested in romantic dramas, though. The romances were often unbelievable, as in, I didn’t… believe that the characters loved each other. Even more frequently, there was just too much emphasis on physical attraction and sexual tension, which isn’t what I’m interested in seeing. (See all of my raging at the MCU movies.) While this movie isn’t a Nicholas Sparks story, I was under the impression that it was the same basic gist. I expected some whirlwind love story, tragedy, crying, romance.

The promotions for Me Before You, the film adaptation of Jojo Moyes’s 2012 bestseller, have been in full force for a few months now. And the comments on the trailers and other promotional materials were all along the lines of:

I cried watching this trailer!

The book made me weep openly on the train.

Ohgod I’m going to be a mess during this movie.

Etc. Etc. Etc. I saw these trailers, and I got it: this was going to be a sweet and ultimately devastating movie.

So, when Annie asked me to come with her to an early screening of this movie, and I agreed because I like Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke, it came as no surprise at all that there was one of these on every seat in the theater:

"Time to take care of you. Go ahead and let it all out." Thanks Kleenex.
“Time to take care of you. Go ahead and let it all out.” Thanks Kleenex.

First, it needs to be said that Me Before You is so great for any of my fandom friends. They had franchise stars all over the place. In addition to Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair, Hunger Games) and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones), we also had Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald, Doctor Who), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter), and Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister, Game of Thrones) to name the big franchise stars who were in this movie.

Daenerys takes care of wheelchair-bound Finnick, which worries her sister Clara and makes her boyfriend Neville jealous, while his father Tywin worries.
Daenerys takes care of wheelchair-bound Finnick, which worries her sister Clara and makes her boyfriend Neville jealous, while his father Tywin worries.

Right, let’s talk about the movie, shall we?

In case you were wondering if the emotional devastation was hyped up for this movie, just know that I heard people using these tissues throughout the theater during the movie, and that when the lights came up, many people had tears streaming down their faces.

People legit looked like this, my friends.

Did I cry?
Of course, I cry at most movies I see.  I cry at commercials and at cute babies on the train. (Side note: I saw the most precious baby on the metro on Tuesday and I haven’t stopped thinking about her and maybe I am tearing up thinking about her now.) BUT, that being said, I didn’t feel that emotionally invested in this movie. I didn’t quite buy it. The sad moments were pretty cheap shots. Just as you can have cheap shots and gratuitous violence, there was really gratuitous and cheap tearjerking in this movie.

Also, I found the movie pretty funny! The light and humorous moments were really endearing and funny. I wasn’t really expecting that, so it was nice to laugh at the ridiculousness of the characters and their circumstances. Some of the scenes were wasted (for example, the doctor seemed like kind of a wasted character), but in general, I felt like the actors really carried the scenes well and brought emotions to the movie with ease.

Look at these cutie pies.

But my big issue was that I didn’t quite buy it. Emilia Clarke’s character, Lou, is SO cute. (So so adorable! My mom’s favorite rom-com trope: the 傻大姐!) And I understand why Sam Claflin’s Will falls in love with her as she puts herself out there to try to help him enjoy his life again. (Again, she’s SO endearingly adorable.) But I didn’t quite see how Lou fell in love with Will. Is it only because he seems to be more of a romantic than her boyfriend of seven years, Patrick? Yes, he’s not a particularly good boyfriend, but suddenly she’s in love with a man she is paid to look after? They go on a vacation together and suddenly she’s wearing just a big white button-down shirt and that’s it? (If that was supposed to be a shirt dress or if it had shorts under it, I couldn’t tell so it was a Risky Business-style shirt as far as I could see.) Will asks her not to leave him alone in his room and she takes that as an invitation to snuggle up with him in bed??? What??? Emilia and Sam have a lovely chemistry as friends, but I didn’t really buy it as lovers, and I think it did have a lot to do with how adorable Lou is as a character. When Will expresses how frustrated he is that he isn’t able to act on his sexual desire for Lou… I don’t really believe it? Sorry.

But dang they both are such beautiful people.

And you know, the ending is sad and I don’t know what the takeaway is supposed to be. And it has caused quite a hubbub with the disabled community, so you know, I’m not going to say much more about it. If you haven’t read the book, I don’t want to be the person to spoil the ending of this movie for you.

But maybe bring tissues if you’re nervous.

(Random other note: I don’t like the use of Ed Sheeran music in this movie? It was okay (ish) in the trailer, but it felt so weird in the movie, I don’t know why.)

Me Before You is in theaters June 3.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Note: I’ll be using a few abbreviations in this review. They can be found above the movie poster in parentheses.
Another note: This is going to be a long review. Please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle.
Last note: This review is not particularly refined, but I wanted to have thoughts up here while the movie was still fresh in my mind.

Remember how excited I was to see the second Avengers movie last year? How I had been waiting since the release of the first film with such eager anticipation… What I didn’t mention was how predictably disappointed I was, I think. Even after the original Avengers, I knew the second one wouldn’t live up to the hype. Still, I was super duper hyped, maybe the most hyped I’ve been for a movie in a long time.

UNTIL Disney/Marvel announced Phase Three. And then I knew that I was just mega-super-ultra excited for Captain America: Civil War (CACW) for a couple of primary reasons (to simplify my excitement for you all):

  1. Captain America is my favorite Avenger (not least because I love Chris Evans) and I’ve loved his movies.
  2. Captain America: Winter Soldier (CAWS) was intensely good, and I was really glad to see that the Russo Brothers, who gifted us with that great movie, were returning for this movie because-
  3. I was so tired of Joss Whedon for Age of Ultron (AOU) and trust the Russo Brothers to do better than Whedon did with his second chance.
  4. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was first established, one of the most prominent comic book storylines that I heard about was the Civil War storyline, so I was thrilled that they were going to bring it to the MCU.

TL;DR This was definitely better than Age of Ultron and was a lot of fun to watch. Me being me, of course, this movie was not perfect, and I’ll talk about that. As per usual, this review will have spoilers below the trailer; before the trailer, there may be information from previous Marvel films and promotional materials.

I have a lot of complaints, but I want to talk about what I really loved about this movie!

Spider-Man was great. I’ll admit that I was one of the people who was upset when Andrew Garfield was replaced. I love him as an actor, and I liked his portrayal of Peter Parker. (I liked Tobey McGuire’s, too, until that last movie… which wasn’t his fault, but I mean…) However, I thought it made a lot of sense to cast an actual teenager to play teenage Peter Parker. I will admit, also, that I was pretty biased against Tom Holland being cast, I think because the photos that I saw of him were of a really young Holland, young teens for sure. I thought that Marvel had gone a bit far on the younger casting, and was not sure how I felt about essentially a middle school child being Spider-Man. But Holland was great! You really get this sense of Peter being a high schooler, nervous around the other Avengers, nervous about his Aunt May finding out he’s Spider-Man, just… nails that teenage nervousness. He’s still pretty charismatic but in that Peter Parker way. One of my big issues with Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Peter Parker was that I was not convinced that an “awkward geek” would be as charming as Andrew Garfield was.

As John Boyega said, saying “Hey everyone” can be really addicting.

I also liked that the suit we see in the trailer is provided by Tony Stark, because honestly, I never bought the story that Peter Parker made his suit on his own.

Black Panther was great. Oh man, I think that T’challa’s first (hero) appearance was almost more anticipated than Spider-Man’s, at least by the people at my screening, judging by the applause and cheers for each character. While I do wish there was a little more depth to his character in this movie, I know he is getting his own stand-alone film really soon, so I was happy for the characterization that we got in CACW. Black Panther is such a great character, and I think really needed in the MCU. As a prince, he brings this dignity to the Avengers that Thor doesn’t quite bring because T’challa took his mantle more seriously than Thor did initially, and that’s because being the Black Panther is not a superpower that was thrust upon him. It is a royal duty that he had to earn.

Chadwick Boseman is fantastic~

It was funny! I laughed a lot watching this, and I didn’t feel burdened by an obligation to laugh like I did with AOU. (Looking at those one-line zingers, Joss…) Marvel movies are always really funny, especially because they cast some great comedians to play our heroes, and sometimes I take that for granted, so I wanted to be sure to let you guys know that I got lots of giggles and chuckles in while watching.

Obviously, seeing so many Avengers on screen, at once, interacting with each other was amazing. There’s a lot of great banter because, again, half our characters are pretty snarky. Sam (Falcon) and Bucky (Winter Soldier) bickering as the two of Steve’s (Captain America’s) best friends. “I hate you,” Sam says pretty directly to Bucky. “We’re still friends, right?” “Depends on how hard you hit me.” Natasha (Black Widow) and Clint (Hawkeye), who are no longer romantically-linked (maybe) are questioning if they are still BSF – best spies forever – given that they stand on opposite sides of the Civil War.

Before this review gets too long, though, I do need to talk about some of my beef with this movie…Read More »

Keanu (2016)

I’ve been a fan of comedy duo Key and Peele (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) since they were on MADtv together. Their Comedy Central show, Key & Peele, has churned out hit after hit after hit. Although I don’t have Comedy Central, I’ve seen nearly every single sketch available online and I can’t think of a single one I didn’t find funny.

So, when I heard they were releasing a feature film, I was definitely interested. And then my interest was confused when I saw the first few seconds of the trailer. And then my curiosity piqued when I saw the rest of the trailer.

You know what, I was pretty dubious that this movie would be funny. And I’m not sure why, seeing as how I have seen sketch comedy successes be hilarious in a feature-length film. (See Coffee Town.) Keanu was like a few different sketches that were strung together into one cohesive story. From the get-go, I was already laughing at the extremely dramatic music playing when the lights dimmed. (Me to Annie: “What is happening? Are we even in the right movie????”) I was only reassured that everything was going all right when I saw the star of the movie appear on screen: the most adorable little kitteh! (Fun fact: 7 kittens were used for the filming of Keanu. All 7 were adopted!)

If you enjoyed Key & Peele, then you will really enjoy this movie. If you’re an avid fan of the show, you’ll definitely appreciate certain nods to their sketches. (Guess who is the star of a movie they see in the movie?) Key and Peele are able to flex their comedy muscles while making subtle social commentary about blackness and drug culture and violence and language and lots of other great stuff.

George Michael? Yeah… he… he light-skinned… yeah…

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