Tag Archives: Chris Pine

Jack Ryan: Shadow Reboot

Tom Clancy,  who created truckloads of novels filled with political and military fiction–as well as several video games that I know nothing about, died last week.  He left behind a legacy of practically inventing a genre of fiction, or at least reinventing it. Adaptations of his work breathed newSean Connery, Alec Baldwin and Scott Glenn life into movies about espionage and government conspiracies. Like his books, the best and worst of these films often featured Jack Ryan.

Billed as the thinking man’s James Bond: the character of  CIA analyst Jack Ryan, as portrayed by future comedian Alec Baldwin, first appears on screen in the submarine cold war epic The Hunt for Red October. The movie, about a Soviet defector played by Sean Connery (sounding quite Scottish rather than Russian) and his experimental submarine, finds Ryan a great negotiator and reluctant action hero.

Harrison Ford took Jack Ryan to the next level in Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games.  Adding his signature scowl, Ford’sford Ryan gets quite a bit more physical while enhancing the cerebral nature of the character.   This work in my opinion is completely undone by future Batman Ben Affleck.

In a reboot of the series, The Sum of All Fears shows Jack Ryan recruited to the CIA by Morgan Freeman. We see Affleck play Ryan as uncertain of himself and out of his element. The origin story, however, doesn’t seem to get off the ground. Preventing a terrorist attack on American soil while trying to understand the world of high stakes espionage and keeping the details from his new wife– it just seems like too much for Affleck to handle… because it is.

This week saw the release of the trailer for a new Jack Ryan reboot. Hot off of Star Trek: Into Darkness, Chris Pine has stepped into yet another role established by someone else. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is more than a reboot, it is a wholly original script pulling little to nothing from the source material. The trailer suggests the departure from any existing Jack Ryan property  and the conversion to full action film. Also it appears Jack Ryan gets younger with every reboot.

 

I will do my best to reserve judgment until I see the film, but it may have been better to let this character die with his creator.

 

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Keep Calm and Trek on

Star Trek Into Darkness opens with a perfect original series scenario. The Enterprise crew has been monitoring a class m planet (Earth-like) and its pre warp (pre wheel) society. Captain James T. Kirk for some unknown reason has picked up a sacred relic and is being chased by the paper mache people through a red forest. Spock is stranded inside an active volcano, and though he has a device that can stop it from erupting, he will not survive its use. The only way to save his stranded first officer is for Kirk to order the Enterprise, which is concealed on the bottom of an oceastar-trek-into-darkness-red-worldn, to fly above the volcano and transport Spock to safety.

The only problem? Just a tiny thing called the prime directive, a policy of non- interference into the activities of indigenous species. Kirk does exactly what we expect him to do and saves Spock despite his protest of violating this sacred rule. These events are omitted from the captain’s log, but recounted with excruciating detail in Spock’s report. Though, if Spock was so opposed to interfering in the development of this society by allowing them to see the Enterprise why was he willing to alter the course of their existence by stopping a volcanic eruption?

This pre-credits scene, which has little to do with the plot of this film, sums up my feelings on the current direction of the Star Trek film series. After J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the long running franchise, all old things were new again. Courtesy of a time travel plot device the entire Star Trek continuity was nullified. Most of the same events take place just out of order and not in exactly the same way they happened in the prime universe. This allows Abrams to make slight changes and updates. (Don’t get me started on the uniform hats.)

Since the Star Trek saga began, time travel has been a staple of the series. Often the crews of the various starships are forced to go back in time to prevent an antagonist from altering the future. The only difference is this time no one put the universe back together again. The altered timeline is allowed to run and in a sense becomes the “prime”– at least for now.

Given the incredible license that the altered timeline provides, I fail to understand why a director of Abrams caliber would not want to break some new ground. Instead the film is littered with a-ha moments and retreads of tired characters. The villains in this film are redundant, we have seen them before and while we enjoy feeling as though we are in on the big reveal, the series cannot be sustained in this fashion.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film. Pine’s Kirk is a pleasure to watch. He is cocky but insightful. Justabrams as likely as Shatner’s interpretation to simply shoot the brain slug as it crawls from Chechov’s ear than attempt to determine its origin. He’s just as willing to lay it all on the line to protect every member of his crew.

Quinto has Spock down to a frightening T. Urban’s Bones is perfect if tragically under-utilized. Uhura is finally a three dimensional character after existing for 50 or so years.

What makes it worth watching? Do we look for all the things we already know about, then pat ourselves on the back for noticing them? Perhaps we are meant to focus on the subtle differences. Star Trek: Into Darkness is a great thrill ride, a fine action film, and a send up to previous movies. It’s Trek, and it’s not all at the same time. It’s better than Star Trek: the Motion Picture or Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, but it’s no Wrath of Kahn–and that’s okay.

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What 2013 Has to Offer on the Big Screen

I thought I’d take a moment this week to briefly look at what’s hitting the box office this year and give a quick prediction on the outcome of each.

  1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – January 25th. Premise: Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) play the fairy tale brother and sister who are all grown up and have become professional witch hunters. Prediction: Van Helsing meets Brothers Grimm, which means a lot of action with an intriguing story but hopefully with more Grimm and less Helsing.
  2. John Dies at the End – January 25th. Premise: You take a drug, it sends you through time and space, you might come back normal, or you might come back as something else. Something otherworldly. Now the world is in danger of a sinister invasion and it’s up to two college dropouts to save it. Prediction: Dude, Where’s My Car? meets Buckaroo Banzai but with Paul Giamatti for added effect. Definitely worth a viewing, high or not.
  3. A Good Day to Die Hard – February 15th. Premise: John McClane (Bruce Willis) and his son travel to Russia to fight Russians and stop a nuclear weapons heist. Prediction: I think it might be getting to the point where it might be a good idea for John to die. Hard.
  4. Warm Bodies – February 1st. Premise: A zombie becomes human again through the power of love, other zombies follow suit. Possible hilarity, horror, and action ensues. Prediction: I think someone might be trying to “Twilight-ize” zombies. Let’s hope not.
  5. Oz: The Great and Powerful – March 8th. Premise: A prequel to The Wizard of Oz telling the story of how Oz (James Franco) becomes the Wizard. And it’s directed by Sam Raimi. Win win. Predictions: I think this film will be fantastic and be the magical wonder that Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland failed to be.
  6. G.I. Joe: Retaliation – March 29th. Premise: All but a few Joes are killed off by Cobra. Now it’s up to the remaining Joes (The Rock, Channing Tatum, some other people), including the original Joe (Bruce Willis) to, for lack of a better word, retaliate. Prediction: Hopefully this film will offer some retribution for the let down that was G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.
  7. Evil Dead – April 12th. Premise: A remake of the original with a female lead (Jane Levy) in place of Bruce Campbell’s Ash. It’s also promising less humor and schtick and more blood and gore. Sounds promising. Predictions: Hardcore fans will be difficult to convince, but from what I’ve seen so far of this flick, they’ll be won over. It looks wicked.
  8. Iron Man 3 – May 3rd. Premise: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) returns to take on his greatest foe yet, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). From the looks of things, this might be the Dark Knight Rises of the Iron Man series. Ya know, a very powerful foe shows up, strips him of everything, and then Tony must find the hero in himself to defeat his enemy. This also begins Marvel’s Phase II. Prediction: Probably won’t be the best of the three films but I’m sure it’ll outdo Iron Man 2. And make Marvel a lot of money.
  9. Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17th. Premise: Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the rest of the Enterprise crew return to take on a most deadly foe, possibly Kahn, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Prediction: This film will be epic, just like the first, and seeing Benedict as a bad guy is going to be sweet. This is a can’t miss flick.
  10. Now You See Me – June 7th. Premise: A film about bank-robbing illusionists, directed by Louis Leterrier and scored by The Chemical Brothers. Enough said. Prediction: I have a feeling this is going to be one of those twist-and-turns, mind-f*ck types of film. But with bank-robbing illusionists.
  11. Much Ado About Nothing – June 7th. Premise: Joss Whedon adapted this classic Shakespearean tale while making The Avengers. He cast it with people from Firefly, Buffy, Angel, and The Avengers. He made it because of his insecurities with taking on a huge project like The Avengers. It’s Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare….do I really need to say anything else? Prediction: I love Joss Whedon. I love Shakespeare. Without even seeing it, I love this film.
  12. Man of Steel – June 14th. Premise: Zack Snyder directs, Christopher Nolan produces, and a bunch of great actors star in what is sure to be the best Superman film ever. And a film that will hopefully restart the series and lead into a Justice League film. Prediction: The more I see of this, the more I believe that this film will be one of the greatest comic book films of all time. But I’ve been wrong before.
  13. World War Z – June 21st. Premise: Brad Pitt stars in this adaptation of Max Brooks’ bestselling novel about a U.N. employee trying to stop a worldwide zombie outbreak. Prediction: I’m pretty much done with the whole zombie genre, and I haven’t read the book, so I’ll probably wait until this comes out on Blu-ray.
  14. Pacific Rim – July 12th. Premise: Guillermo del Toro writes and directs this film about giant robots fighting to save the world from giant alien monsters. Prediction: I was sold at Guillermo del Toro. The rest is just icing on the cake.
  15. wolverine_jackman_660The Wolverine – July 26th. Premise: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan to train with samurais and take on a powerful new foe, The Silver Samurai. Prediction: This has to be better than Wolverine Origins. If not, I give up on Hugh Jackman. And Wolverine.
  16. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – August 16th. Premise: Part 2 of the series finds Percy (Logan Lerman) and his friends searching for the mythical Golden Fleece. Prediction: I enjoyed the first film, so I may go see this one. I’m hoping this film will fill some of the void that Harry Potter left, but I doubt it.
  17. Riddick – September 6th. Premise: Vin Diesel returns to his most badass character to take on new alien predators, new mercs, and an old foe. Prediction: I will watch this film because I love the others. I will hope this film is the last in the series because I don’t want this series to be run into the ground like Diesel’s other popular series, Fast and Furious.
  18. Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers – September 27th. Premise: Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) discovers that the machine he’s created is still creating food-animal hybrids and wreaking havoc. Now it’s up to him to stop it once and for all. Prediction: If you don’t like the first film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, you have no soul. No but seriously, the first film was hilarious and great for the whole family. This one will be too. I can’t wait.
  19. Oldboy – October 11th. Premise: Spike Lee’s remake of the ultraviolent Korean cult classic about a man (Josh Brolin) who has five days to figure out why he was imprisoned for 15 years without explanation. Prediction: Of all the films on the list, this is one I’m looking forward to the most. I love the original, and I cannot wait for this remake.
  20. The World’s End – October 25th. Premise: Edgar Wright directs a film about five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival. Prediction: This is the final film in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s “blood and ice cream” trilogy, so I hope it’ll be pretty damn good. I have a feeling it will be.
  21. Ender’s Game – November 1st. Premise: Based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, 70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion. Prediction: Die-hard scifi fans will go ape over this film and then probably rip it apart. That’s how it works. I want to read the book before I watch it.
  22. Thor: The Dark World – November 8th. Premise: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) battles an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness. Prediction: Part two of Marvel’s Phase II looks to be another epic win with the addition of Doctor Who number nine as a baddie. Get ready to nerd out, kids.
  23. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – December 13th. Premise: The journey continues for the Dwarves, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) as they seek to retrieve their gold from the dragon, Smaug (voice by Benedict Cumberbatch). Prediction: Do I really need to predict anything for this? People will flock and empty their wallets for this film. We all know what’s going to happen.
  24. Anchorman: The Legend Continues – December 20th. Premise: The Channel 4 News Team returns for more crazy on-set adventures. Predictions: Probably won’t be a hilarious as the first but I’m sure it will be freakin’ hilarious! And filled with many great one-liners that will be quoted for years to come.

I know I’ve missed a few films here and there, but I don’t really care. I think the list is long enough as it is now. It doesn’t need any more.

What films are you looking forward to this year?

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