Blair Witch

Halloween has officially begun so let the horror flicks flow forth. This year has led me to believe the crop of horror films this year would be a cut above the rest. With stand outs like Lights Out and The Conjuring 2. One would think a new Blair Witch would be a no brainer, right? Wrong.

To preface this, I have to say that I have never seen the first movie. In fact, I kind of curse the day it was released as it basically gave birth to the Found Footage genre, which is basically such a lazy way to make a movie, they have run out of ways to make it fresh without making it look too polished, which takes all the fear out of it. The basic plot of this one is the same as the first. A group of young people go camping where they shouldn’t and we see them run around, screaming at ever shadow. This time around, James, the brother of Heather from the first film apparently, is going to the Black Hills Forest because he received a video that leads him to believe his sister is alive.Over ten years after her disappearance. Uh,yeah, right, but we need something to get these idiots on the road.

James and company travel to Burkittsville, the sight of the proposed Blair Witch incident. They talk to a couple locals and soon they join the group in their camping trip. We get a lot of pointless banter between the friends as they delve deeper into the woods. The ominous feeling that you know something is going to happen is the only thing that fuels this part of the story. When things finally do begin to happen, it’s impossible to care because you can’t tell what’s going on due to the jerky cameras. You just hear screaming, a crash and the screen flutters around until finally it holds, supposedly revealing something that should make us scream, but never does.

This is basically the first movie done over with a bigger budget. I don’t want to say much due to the fact that there are some moments that do work. I didn’t hate the movie. It was actually entertaining, but I was just very disappointed because I was expecting something really special. One critic proclaimed it ‘the scariest movie of the year’. Not even close. There were a few shocks, small shocks, but for the most part it only worked on the level of voyeurism. The concept that you’re watching this footage which spares you having to live through this experience yourself. What also deflated the experience was it wasn’t treated as most found footage films are. Usually there’s no studio credits. It  usually just starts with the warning that what we are about to see  is found footage by the police and it starts. It makes us really believe it’s real. The studio logo really kills the illusion. The film just seemed like another lazy attempt by Hollywood to cash in on something that’s already been made for some easy money. I think, in general, Hollywood would be better off investing in fresh, original stories instead of this endless regurgitation of past successes; hoping lightning will strike again. It rarely ever does.

Audience: I thought it was going to be a good crowd, but at the eleventh hour, just as the film was to begin, a bunch of loud, obnoxious punks came in, laughing and loud, acting like they were the only ones in the auditorium. Needless to say they never stopped talking for the whole movie. They were jumping around and giggling like they were in their own living room. I can see why they were out. Their parents were smart and probably locked  them out of their houses; although I think as the people responsible for not only their existence but also the low quality of their characters, I think the parents should be forced to confined quarters with their spawn. I mean, why should we be punished?

Star Trek : Beyond

The third entry in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek franchise opens this weekend and as far as fun summer blockbuster fare goes, this one hits the spot. I admit I wasn’t totally sure about seeing this one based on the less than ambitious trailer, but I’m glad I did see it. Chris Pine returns as Capt. James T. Kirk as he helms the Enterprise and her crew through another amazing space adventure. He feels the weight of his command and at a point where he questions what he’s doing with his life, an alien creature is found and she needs help. In their effort to help, the Enterprise is attacked by a formidable force led by a warrior known as Krall and he seems to have an intense interest in destroying The United Federation of Planets. Stranded on an alien world with no ship, no weapons and no idea what they’re up against, Kirk and company pull together and set out to stop the bad buy, and save the galaxy in the process.

The returning cast slip into their roles with ease and exhibit the same palpable chemistry that has made the previous two films so successful. Once more Star Trek fulfills Mr. Roddenberry’s vision and shows once more a future where people live together in peace despite their differences. A universe where humanity has finally reached a point where we realize that we are all the same under the skin and we all strive for peace and work towards a future for all. The diversity in the movie is slipped in so easily and casually, you wonder why the real world can’t work like that.

Some highlights of the script, co-written by Simon Peg who of course also portrays Scottie, is the back and forth between the logical Spock and the hot headed Bones, making them a team up that can’t be beat. Chris Pine shines as Kirk. Handsome and daring, a worthy successor to Shatner. Speaking as someone is not a hardcore Star Trek fan, I enjoyed this film, although I have to note there did seem to be a certain decrease in enthusiasm overall in the movie. It’s hard to pinpoint, but maybe the actors or some behind the camera are feeling static in the franchise and there may be call for a shake up in the future. The action is fast and keeps the pace of the movie going. Nothing too jaw dropping I must admit, but on the whole this seemed to be a smaller story compared to the last two films. The film is full of novel ideas and innovative concepts that I’m sure will be built on more in the future and at its core, it was a true Star Trek tale that both fulfilled some expectations while surpassing others. If you’re a fan of this franchise I doubt you  will be disappointed. Don’t expect too much from this as it doesn’t hold too much emotional weight, as it seems many on the crew are settled in their roles and much of the drama born from the first film has leveled off. Could be better, but that’s what the fourth movie will be for, right?

Audience: Packed house at this show and there were a few whispers and chatters, but on average, a well behaved group. One woman sitting a seat away from me seemed to feel the need to comment on all the story points as they occurred on the screen which kind of drove me nuts. Just watch the flippin’ movie! We have no more information about the thing than you do! And a big crossed fingers goes  to the patron who didn’t turn off their phone and it started to ring. I mean, come on! Is it so much of a chore to mute your phone? Is it!? Overall though, they will live. Until next time!