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Blu-ray Review: Star Trek Beyond

November 1, 2016 | by Herija Green | Comments (0)
Star Trek BeyondWhat do you mean the Enterprise blew up again?

There’s little doubt J.J. Abrams has had the Midas touch when it comes to rebooting franchises: Mission Impossible, Star Trek and, most recently, Star Wars. After personally directing the first two films in the Gene Roddenberry franchise, Abrams moves to the producer’s chair and hands directorial duties over to Justin Lin, who is best known for his work on the Fast & Furious series, for Star Trek Beyond.

THE PLOT

Now at the midpoint of their five-year mission, the crew of the Enterprise seems to be drifting in their own directions. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) has grown weary of exploration and plans to take on a role as Vice Admiral at the massive space station Yorktown. Spock (Zachary Quinto), having learned of the death of his future self, intends to leave the Federation to aid the Vulcan people.

Before any of that can happen, however, an unknown ship enters Federation space looking for help after their ship crashed in an uncharted nebula nearby. The Enterprise is dispatched, but the distress call was a trap, leading them into an ambush by a previously unknown foe. The ship is destroyed with ease, scattering the crew onto the planet’s surface below. Some are captured, while others are left to try and regroup.

At the heart of the conflict is an alien artifact with highly destructive properties that the aggressors seek. As crew members pair up on the planet, we are introduced to Jaylah (Sofia Boutella; Kingsman), an alien that has been marooned there for years and has been repairing a derelict Federation vessel in hopes of escape. Now the crew must rally together to survive this ordeal and prevent their captors from obtaining and using the weapon of mass destruction.

THE GOOD

Although the original series was heavy on exploration, the movie franchise has done a good job of throttling up the combat. That’s the case once again here, and the action sequences, whether on land or in space, is well choreographed and engaging. The initial encounter between the Enterprise and the pulsating mass of ships that comprise the enemy force is particularly impressive from a technical standpoint.

Splitting the crew into different pairings — Spock and McCoy (Karl Urban), Kirk and Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) — allow more screen time for various characters after Kirk and Spock were heavily featured in the last film. And while some of those arcs are more interesting than others, it’s still good to see some growth in the modern version of these characters.

Jaylah is a nice addition to the cast. Her overall look is really cool, and the way she fights and carries herself makes us hope there’s a returning slot for her. It’d help to add some new characters into the mix as this incarnation of the franchise continues to diversify itself from the original.

THE BAD

This is more a big picture complaint, but can we make it through a film without the Enterprise blowing up? At some point we need to stop being told what an amazing leader Captain Kirk is and actually see it for ourselves. Every film has been marked by catastrophic missteps and then salvaging the remnants, but Kirk seems to lose the majority of his crew every time out. Even the throwaway mission to start the film ends in abject failure.

While we mentioned the impressiveness of the combat, it feels like the scales have tipped too far in that direction at the expense of nonviolent alternatives and exploration. The Enterprise is reduced to a barely used plot device here, and the amount of the film that takes place on the planet seems out of place for a space-driven franchise.

THE SPECIAL FEATURES

There’s a healthy selection of bonus materials here, most of which are devoted to showing you how various elements were created. They’re fine if that sort of thing interests you, but we tend to be the types that don’t want to know how the sausage was made. A couple of deleted scenes are present as well, though they offer little of substance.

A touching farewell to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, both of whom passed away before the release of the film, is included. It’s sad to think how few of the originals remain, and the Yelchin tragedy is akin to Paul Walker’s passing, where it’s hard to watch the movie without thinking about it.

OVERALL

While Star Trek Beyond is an enjoyable film, there are times where it feels like it strays too far from the subject material. We hope the next movie scales it back a bit and rediscovers a better balance between action and the franchise’s foundation.

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Video Game Review: Modern Warfare Remastered

October 27, 2016 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Gameplay has a retro feel to it, but in the best possible way. It’s like going back and seeing where things really started to change with first-person shooters, and it also underscores just how far removed the current games have become with the introduction of so many superhuman elements (exo-suits, vertical combat, cloaking, speed boosts, etc.).
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Video Game Review: NBA 2k17

October 25, 2016 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
As with most sports games, NBA 2k17 contains an individual-based mode (MyCareer) and a team management sim (MyGM) as its two primary options. Starting with the former, it continues with the series’ unique approach by creating a narrative aspect and pairing it with the sports. Unfortunately, it works better in concept than execution.
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Blu-ray Review: Lights Out

October 24, 2016 | by Herija Green | Comments (0)
Operating off the “less is more” philosophy, Sanberg keeps Diana’s appearances to brief shadowy outlines, frequently in the distance. This proves to be an effective tool as it’s suitably creepy to only have a rough idea of what’s stalking people.
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Video Game Review: Gears of War 4

October 20, 2016 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
It has been 25 years since Marcus Fenix and Delta annihilated the Locust. Marcus’ son, J.D., and his friend Del recently deserted the COG. Although the reasons are never explicitly explained, there was an incident at Settlement 2 that is ominously hinted at, which led to the pair breaking with First Minister Jinn and joining the Outsiders.
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