Monthly Archives: July 2016

Star Trek Beyond

Movie:  Star Trek Beyond

Rating:  4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Reports of trouble in a mostly unknown region of space have reached the Federation Space Station Yorktown.  Kalara, an alien ship captain has lost her crew, and Commodore Paris has ordered Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) to take the U.S.S. Enterprise to investigate.  The star ship barely gets to the nebula where Kalara’s crew was lost when all hell breaks loose.  Some badass alien named Krall (Idris Elba) has sent his swarm of ships to ambush the Enterprise, and barely time to sound red alert for the embattled crew.  What follows is one memorable kick ass space battle, all guns blazing, prepare to repel boarders and engage the enemy in hand to hand combat.

Much of the action then moves to the surface of a planet, where the Enterprise crew is split up into small units.  Cmdr Spock (Zachary Quinto) gets paired up with Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), and Kirk is aligned with Ensign Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin).  Lt Cmdr Montgomery Scott (Simon) starts off by his lonesome, and soon meets up with the very capable and feisty Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), who turns out to be a very important fount of information as to what nasty old Krall is up to.  The rest of the Enterprise crew, including Lt Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and Lt Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), are also hanging around on the planet, more or less.  Whatever Krall is up to, the fate of the Space Station Yorktown is at stake, and maybe the Federation itself.

This is a roller coaster ride for action junkies who will absolutely thrill to the battle scenes, but there is enough plot and camaraderie among the Enterprise crew members to gladden the hearts of the true Star Trek fans.  While J.J. Abrams did not direct this film, he produced it and clearly his brand of high quality entertainment has been maintained in this continuing saga of the U.S.S. Enterprise and her crew.  The hellzapoppin CGI action sequences are extraordinary, and the action is almost non-stop.  The chemistry of the main actors, especially Pine, Urban, Quinto and Pegg (who wrote the script), is central to the success of the latest film version of Star Trek.  Film goers genuinely like these characters and the latest actors who play them, and want to see what ever adventure they go on next.  Hopefully the next one comes no later than the summer of 2018.  Make sure you don’t miss out on this mission.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Dr. McCoy to Capt. Kirk – “Jim, you look like crap.  You’ve got a little vein popping out of your temple again.”

Kirk talks about his Father – “He joined Star Fleet because he believed in it.  I joined on a dare.”

Spock to McCoy – “Doctor, I fail to comprehend how excrement has any bearing on our current situation.”

Kirk – “She (Enterprise) still has a few tricks up her sleeve.”

Spock – “Fear of death is illogical.”   McCoy – “Fear of death is what keeps us alive.”

Kirk – “Why do you need my permission?”  Scott – “Because if I mess up, I don’t want it to be completely my fault!”

Kirk – “How are we going to get out of this one, Spock?  We have no ship and no crew.”

McCoy to Spock – “You gave your girlfriend radioactive jewelry?”  Spock – “It was a sign of respect.”  McCoy – “I’m glad you don’t respect me!”

Krall – “This is where the frontier pushes back.”

McCoy to Spock – “Why you ingrate, this was your idea.  The next time you have a pipe stuck in your innards, call a plumber!”

Kirk to Commodore Paris – “Vice Admirals don’t fly, do they?”  Paris – “No, they don’t.”   Kirk – “Where’s the fun in that?”

Kirk – “We go all the way to the nebula, who knows what we’ll find?”  McCoy – “Alien despots hell bent on killing us!”

Nitnoid Trivia For True Trek Addicts:  In this movie Chris Pine introduces himself as “James Tiberius Kirk”.  I say Shatner’s Kirk always left it as “James T. Kirk”.  Can anybody out there dispute this claim?




The Infiltrator

Movie:  The Infiltrator

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   In the 1980s Florida was a clearing house for cocaine.  On an average week, 15 tons of coke was being smuggled in for sale and distribution around the country.  In addition to police and the DEA, the U.S. Customs agents were desperately trying to stem the flow of the illegal drug trade.  One veteran Customs Special Agent, Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) spent most of his career going undercover impersonating bad guys, and gathering the intel to bring the real miscreants to justice.  One day Mazur had something of an epiphany.  He told his boss Bonni Tischler (Amy Ryan) that instead of chasing the drugs, let’s try following the money.

Thus began one of the all time major league sting operations, as Robert Mazur was transformed into Bob Musella, a big time financier who doesn’t mind laundering dirty money.  Soon Musella gets nibbles from business types “south of the border”, and the stakes get higher and higher as huge sums of money are laundered through his bogus business organization.  Assisting Agent Mazur is another undercover agent Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo), who lives for the thrill of his undercover life.  Needing a woman to play his fiancé in his high roller life style, Agent Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger) becomes Mazur/Musella’s full time partner.  Eventually they work their way up the chain of Pablo Escobar’s cartel until they befriend Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), a high ranking member of the drug kingpin’s organization.

This is a fascinating story of how the U.S. government fights the drug war, all the more so since this is a true tale of crime and punishment.  Bob Mazur has a real family, and the movie shows how difficult it is for agents to juggle their real lives with their undercover ones, and the very real danger that comes with the job.  Thank goodness our country has such dedicated people to fight the criminal enterprises that will employ any extreme and violent measure to protect their multi billion dollar empires.  This movie is loaded with suspense, and very well done.  I highly recommend it.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Mazur – “These people who sell information always walk on the dirty side of the street.”

Bob – “What do I have to do to make you happy?”  Emir – “Just don’t get me killed.”

Emir to Bob – “You should have f*cked that stripper, done coke, whatever it takes to stay alive!”

Cartel Guy to Bob – “If you see him f*ck a goat, which you might, you must say that’s a good looking goat!”

Emir to Bob – “This is my drug of choice, I love this shit.  Nobody does it better than me.  So listen to me sometimes, will ya?”

Crazy Cartel Guy to Bob – “I will keep my hands off you, if you keep your eyes on my boss’ money.”

Bob – “We like to be nimble with our client’s cash.  How does that sound?”  (Banker happy to oblige)  “Sounds like I came to the right bank.”

Bob’s Real Wife to Bob – “That was the most disgusting, degrading, vicious thing I have ever seen you do.”

Roberto Alcaino – “Who am I to stand in the way of people who want to indulge in self destructive behavior.”

Roberto Alcaino to Bob and Kathy – “Without family or friends, what kind of world would this be?  No reason to be alive.”

Scary Real World Fact:  Every year $2,000,000,000,000 in cash is laundered around the world.  (Yes, that is two trillion dollars)




Movie:   Ghostbusters

Rating:  3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    Something strange is going on in New York City, and it don’t look good.  Physicists and semi-experts in the paranormal Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) are unwittingly re-united after years of holding a grudge with each other, along with brilliant semi-mad scientist and techno geek Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon).  As luck (or was it destiny) would have it, just as the paranormal gang is getting run from their squalid basement test lab, they respond to a desperate cry for help from a museum plagued by bad tempered ghosts leaking icky ectoplasm all over the place.

The fledgling Ghostbusters are off and running, feeling their way along as they combat a series of increasingly snarky and malevolent poltergeists.  Joining the team of Ghostbusters is subway employee Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), and to assist in the admin duties in the office one hunky dude named Kevin (Chris Hemsworth).  Kevin seems to be a very dim bulb, but he takes his shirt off a lot and the ladies seem to think he is qualified enough for the job.  Go figure.  Some nutty guy called Rowan North (Neil Casey) is zipping around the city leaving devices that magnifies the ghost problem; how that figures in is rather mystery in itself.  Just go with it.  Sooner or later the ladies break out the unlicensed nuclear backpack ghost zappers, and all heck breaks loose.

This film opened with super high expectations, and was burdened with trying to compete with the classic 1984 version.  Is this movie as good as the original?  No, afraid not.  Is it funny and a good comedy?  Yes.  Hard to pinpoint what is lacking in this movie.  It doesn’t help that we remember the original, and pretty much know the story line as we watch the new one.  The new Ghostbusters are funny and good actors, but just don’t have the charisma of Bill Murray and Dan Akeroyd.   Plus there is maybe too much of a reliance on CGI special effects.  Still, this movie is better than 90% of the films out this summer, so go see these ladies kick some poltergeist ass!

Dialogue Nuggets:  Museum Tour Guide – “In this room P.T. Barnum first decided to enslave elephants.”

Abby – “Don’t get too close to her, Holtzmann.  She’ll ask you to write a book, then squash your dreams.”

Erin – “I got fired after years of hard work and ass kissing.”

Nutty Rowan North – “The universe shall bend to your will!”

Patty – “If I see the twins from The Shining, I’m gonna pass out!”

Erin – “There’s a ghost in that thing, and I want it.  Light ’em up!”

Patty – “I don’t know if it’s a race thing, or a lady thing, but I’m mad as hell!”

Erin – “It makes me feel so warm and tingly inside.”  Jillian – “It’s probably the radiation.”

NYC Mayor’s Aide – “It’s just another publicity stunt by these incredibly sad and lonely women.”

Abby to Kevin – “When we were risking our lives to save NYC, you were stopping at a deli to get a sandwich.”  

Cameos Galore:  The original Ghostbuster gang pretty much all show up in various quickie cameos.  Plus Andy Garcia and current SNL star Cecily Strong add some pizzazz as the NYC Mayor and top aide.  If you blink, you will miss the adorable Milana Vayntrub, who plays Lily in all those AT&T commercials.  She deserves a bigger role!

Credits:  Stay for the credits, and dig Ray Parker’s great theme song.  After the credits, there is an extra scene to watch.  I smell sequel!  Miss you, Harold Ramis….

The Secret Life Of Pets

Movie:  The Secret Life Of Pets

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:  Max (Louis C.K.) is a very domesticated and very happy Jack Russell terrier who lives in an apartment in New York City with Katie (Ellie Kemper), his owner.  The only problem in life as far as Max is concerned, is that his owner is gone for so long every day!  Max lives for the time each day that he hears Katie come to the door, and his joy is boundless.  Apparently Katie has an inkling as to how lonely poor Max gets, as one day she brings home a dog rescued from the pound, an enormous Newfoundland named Duke (Eric Stonestreet).  Max is stunned!  He doesn’t want a roommate, and he especially  doesn’t want competition for Katie’s affection!   Something must be done to correct this deplorable turn of events.

From Duke’s perspective, he has landed in the lap of luxury.  At the pound he was a few days away from getting snuffed, and he is not about to let some jealous mutt half his size mess up a good deal for him.  Thus the territorial lines are drawn, and the law of club and fang will rule.  Which only results in both dogs ending up on the mean streets of New York City, on the lam from the Animal Control truck, as well as some vicious alley cats.  They meet up with Snowball (Kevin Hart), a cute little white bunny rabbit who is actually the leader of a resistance movement of various critters with a serious grudge against humans.  Meanwhile, Gidget (Jenny Slade), a cute little Pomeranian with a secret crush on Max, leads a rescue party of unlikely heroes that includes:  Chloe (Lake Bell), a fat and very sassy cat;  Pops (Dana Carvey), an old Basset Hound; and Tiberius (Albert Brooks), a cranky and cynical hawk.

This is a fun movie on several levels.  It has an excellent cast, great animation, a pretty decent plot for an animated movie that will engage the adults, and plenty of zany action sequences to keep the kiddies in thrall.  And you might end up wondering what your pets are up to when you leave them alone in your house.  Good stuff for a summer movie outing.  Go see it.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Max – “I’m the luckiest dog in New York City!”

(Katie closes apartment door)  Max – “Where is she going?  What could she possibly be doing?  Oh, I miss her so much!”

Max to Chloe – “No one could ever love a cat the way they love a dog.”

Duke to Max – “I need this place, and if it’s going to come down between you and me, it’s going to be me!”

Mel – “Nobody likes you squirrel!”

Snowball – “You got the stench of domestication on you!”

Tiberius – “Okay, he’s too stupid to talk, and too ugly to eat.”

Snowball – “I feel heroic, and handsome and wet, but I still look good.”