Angels & Demons: Ron Howard and Tom Hanks bring their second Dan Brown offering to the big screen. It pains me to say this, but they struck out again. I actually think the mediocre Da Vinci Code was a better effort. Angels & Demons feels rushed, insincere, and fails to capture one of the significant themes from the book - religion vs. science. The screenplay actually varies quite a lot from the novel, which should have given them more time to properly pace the movie, but it failed to do so. Code and Demons are both tough novels to translate onto film as so much of the action and discovery is done in the hero’s mind. The hero again is Robert Langdon (Hanks). He is summoned by the Vatican police to help solve a grave threat that has been made by the ancient secret group – the Illuminati. The Vatican is in conclave (electing a new pope) when four cardinals are kidnapped. The Illuminati say that they will execute each cardinal every hour at a different church in Rome. The fifth hour will bring mass destruction to Rome by means of a hidden bomb. The bomb is actually a droplet of “antimatter” which was created by scientists at CERN – thus making it a war between science and religion (this theme is barely touched on). Can Langdon figure out which churches the cardinals will be taken to and can he save them before they meet their maker? His only lead is a 400 year old poem by Galileo. From there, he must follow clues that take him across Rome, but time is not on his side. Not nearly as suspenseful as it should have been…..not as smart as it should have been….just not as good as it should have been. Ry’s Rating: C
If this movie had parents they would be: Speed & The Da Vinci Code
Star Trek: Wow, am I impressed! When I heard the early buzz on this film “rebooting the series with a young attractive cast” I thought it would be like 90210 in space…or in other words, a complete disaster. Then a strange thing happened, the trailer came out and actually looked pretty good. Then the positive reviews and word of mouth started to come in. Finally, on Saturday I was able to check it out for myself. I have to tip my cap to J.J. Abrams for a job well done. I am not a “trekkie” by any means. However I have seen a couple of the movies, cried when Spock died in Khan, and know most of the main characters. This movie actually made me want to discover more of the Star Trek lore. The story starts at the very beginning and I mean the Very Beginning: we see Captain Kirk’s birth. We then jump ahead 25 years to the U.S.S. Enterprise's first mission out to investigate a distress call from the planet Vulcan. What makes the rest of the ride so enjoyable is the cast. Every one of the crew members does an excellent job of getting us to care about them, plus their chemistry together is tremendous. The two leads – Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Kirk (Chris Pine) are perfect together as we see their friendship begin. On top of the perfect cast is a well layered story that includes some time travel elements that work perfectly for the situation. Lastly, we have some grand special effects that breathe some life into the movie – gone are the days of a camera tilting and the actors falling all over. Star Trek is back…..and in my opinion, better than ever before.
Ry's Rating: A-
If this movie had parents they would be: Back to the Future & The Last Star Fighter
The Indie Incubator Film Festival turned 8 last week. I have been lucky to be a part of this phenomenon for the past 7 installments. Of course, there are two individuals who have been there from the very beginning – Matt Kubinski and Charles Klein. They have done an excellent job growing and refining this film fest throughout the years. In my opinion, this latest chapter was their best! As a whole, the crop of films shown at the Original Mother’s last Tuesday was the highest quality yet. What these young filmmakers may lack in budget they make-up for in a wealth of creativity. The films shown are judged by a panel of judges (Kathy Byrne, Kit Wood & myself) with the winning film earning a chance to be shown on WTTW’s Image Union. If I were in charge of Image Union, I would show at least 3 films from the festival. The first highlight was Already Happened brought to us by Orange Chair productions. The focus here is on a CD player that may or may not be a time-travel device. Very well produced, drew me in…I did not want it to end. The second highlight was Rock Star – a very funny video from Lola Balatro. We hear and see a Rock Star battle with the rock ' n roll lifestyle as he tries not to burnout. The last highlight was the brightest. Theory of Everything Productions screened the 3 part masterpiece Never. We were fortunate a couple of fests before to see the first part of Never and I loved it back then. Now complete – this film has the distinction of being the best film ever to screen at an Indie Incubator Film Fest. Both Devon Ford and Chris Lane (the mind and money behind Never) were on hand to receive the award for Best in Fest. If you have not jumped in on the fun yet, you are really missing out. Next Incubator is in November – do yourself a favor and make it out for the event!!!