Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Movie Review Day: Star Trek Into Darkness and Jack Reacher and Gangster Squad

Okay, review day! I'm going to do quick reviews of three movies I've watched over the past week. One I saw in the theaters. The other two were courtesy of Redbox.

Star Trek: Into Darkness

I totally loved the first Star Trek movie and was so excited to see Into Darkness, and it didn't disappoint! Many people liked it better than the first. Honestly, I don't think I'd go that far--I liked them both equally--but it was definitely great!

I thought especially the beginning was well-done. We open with a massive rescue operation that may or may not kill key members of the crew and blatantly violate the Prime Directive. (a.k.a. awesome!). Then we move into the consequences, which start with angst and end in tragedy. I really thought this part played out well. It seems the major players maybe re-assigned, but of course things go wrong and the enterprise crew is called upon to save the day. (And by that I mean the federation, the planet earth, and the universe at large. No pressure, though!)  How was that for vague? ;D

The story was great and had plenty of drama, comedy, action, and emotional punch. Each of the actors--once again--played their parts to perfection. And, just for the Trekkie nerds, this storyline may or may not reference the Klingon-Federation war. (Freakin' sick!)

Overall, I totally loved it! If you're a Trekkie and/or loved the first movie, you'll love this one too. Trust me. And go see it! :D

Jack Reacher

So I really didn't have any desire to see Jack Reacher. I'm actually a Tom Cruise fan, but this just felt like it'd been done before. Many times. I have no experience with the Reacher mythology, but had several people tell me that, even though they aren't Cruise haters either, he was seriously miscast in the role.

Then, while on vacation, my brother showed up with the DVD. He said he'd watched the first twenty minutes or so but hadn't finished it, but that it was trippy. On that recommendation, I sat down and watched it with him. And folks, I actually enjoyed it much more than I would have thought. Granted, I had extremely low expectations, so maybe I could have helped but like it a little. Has it been done before? Yeah maybe, especially certain aspects, but that didn't make it all bad.

We start with some insane sniper killings. Anyone who lived through and/or remembers the D.C. Snipers and the terror they caused will definitely be freaked out by it. But, it also gets your attention right at the get-go. Cruise's character is kind of a combination of Jason Bourne, John McClane, and Ethan Hunt. Despite that, the story was intriguing and easy to follow, full of cover-ups, set-ups, and plenty of conspiracy. I followed it with interest.

In truth, Tom Cruise is good at action flicks. It's where--in my opinion--he shines the most. I thought he did a good job, as well as all the other actors, especially Jai Courtney. I'm becoming more and more a fan of his work. :D

Overall, if you like Cruise action flicks, you'll like this. If you aren't into these types of movies, you won't. But don't blow it off just because it doesn't stand out. It actually does stand on it's own and I was pleasantly surprised.

Gangster Squad

I watched Gangster Squad with my sisters while working on blogging stuff, so let me start by admitting I might not have been paying the strictest of attention. Because of that, the beginning of this film is a bit hazy for me. It's the kind of movie where a lot happens in a short time, so you have to pay close attention or you get lost. (I was also running after a two-year-old every five minutes, which also made it difficult to follow what was happening.)

That said, as I got farther into the film, I got really into it and it became easier to follow. This was a fascinating story about a group of under-celebrated, very human cops that brought down a horrible gangster. It was a great story because they were people who got things done and weren't afraid to get their hands dirty in order to put away murderous, corrupt people and keep their streets safe. There was plenty of action and shoot-outs and tragedy. (Also plenty of gore and over-the-top language. This one's not for the youngsters, FYI.)

Great performances all around. Josh Brolin was the hero you loved. Sean Penn was a little too convincing as a brutal, old-school gangster. Fake nose and all! I really enjoyed the Emma Stone/Ryan Gosling love story. And even Giovanni Ribisi, who I'm not the biggest fan of, took a turn as a conventional awesome-dad kind of guy, rather than the weirdo roles he generally favors and--surprise!--I sort of liked him in the film. Oh, and totally fell for Robert Patrick's character as well! So great!

I ended up really liking it! If you like gangster movies, especially those in the vein of The Untouchables, you'll like it. Just be warned that it's an R-rated flick, and for good reason. Of course, The Untouchables was rated the same, but that was an '80s R-rating as opposed to a 2013 R-rating. Know what I mean?  Even so, it was a great underdog story. Totally loved it! :D

Has anyone else seen any of these films? What did you think?


  1. I haven't seen Jack Reacher, but I enjoyed the other two. (Like you, something about that film didn't grab me enough to see it in the theater.) I will admit I liked the second Star Trek better. I think they found their groove.

  2. I still have trouble getting over changing the Jack Reacher character just because they wanted Cruise, but it sounds like it works. I'll check it out Liesel.

  3. I'm planning to watch Star Trek in the theaters this weekend, but I really enjoyed Jack Reacher. I'm with you on Jai Courtney, oh goodness. He was a beautiful devil in this one. I wasn't sure if I wanted to reserve Gangster Squad at my library. I think I will now. Great reviews (sorry I had to skip the first one)