Film Review: Hotel Artemis (dir by Drew Pearce)


Oh, Hotel Artemis.

I had such high hopes for you.

Hotel Artemis, you may remember, was initially released way back in June and, at the time, it was advertised as being some sort of nonstop action thrill ride.  The commercials made it look totally over-the-top and exciting, which was I wanted to see it.  Of course, I didn’t see it because …. well, actually I don’t remember what was happening in June that kept me from going to the movies.  But there had to have been something going on because I not only missed seeing Hotel Artemis in the theaters but I also missed Ocean’s 8 and Hereditary as well.

Well, regardless of why I missed it the first time, I did finally get a chance to watch Hotel Artemis earlier this week and, unfortunately, it turned out to not be anything special.  It’s certainly not terrible.  It has its moments and the film looks great but, at the same time, it’s hard not to feel somewhat let down by the film.  Hotel Artemis has promise but much of its goes unrealized.

The film takes place in one of those vaguely defined futures where there’s a lot of rioting and a lot of militaristic cops.  In fact, the film opens with Los Angeles in the middle of one such disturbance.  The riot scenes attempt to go for a Purge-style intensity but, for the most part, they just kind of fall flat.  There’s a lot of scenes of people yelling and occasionally, a police transport rolls by but, for the most part, there’s no danger to the film’s riot.  It’s all just a bit too obviously choreographed.  You never get the feeling that things could just randomly explode.

The Hotel Artemis is a combination of a hotel and a hospital.  It’s run by Jean Thomas, who is better known as Nurse and who is played by Jodie Foster.  Jean was once a doctor but, haunted by the death of her son, she became an alcoholic and lost her license to practice medicine.  Severely agoraphobic, Jean has spent 22 years inside of the Hotel.  She only treats criminals and other people on the fringes of society.  Helping her is Everest (Dave Bautista), who helps to keep order in the often chaotic hotel.

All of Jean’s patients are given codenames, based on which room their occupying in the hotel.  There’s Acapulco (Charlie Day), who is wealthy and short-tempered and who is waiting for a helicopter to come pick him up.  And then there’s Nice (Sofia Boutella), an international assassin who gets to beat people while wearing this red gown that is absolutely to die for.  There’s also Wakiki (Sterling K. Brown), who is a bank robber who is worried that his partner, Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry), is going to die from the wounds that he suffered during a robbery-gone-wrong.  Further complicating things is a gangster named The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) and Morgan (Jenny Slate), who needs Jean’s help but who also happens to be a cop.  Zachary Quinto is also in this film, playing the Wolf King’s son, because you really can’t make a pretentious genre film without giving a role to Zachary Quinto.

Anyway, there’s a pretty good action sequence towards the end of the film but it takes Hotel Artemis forever to get there.  Before that, you have to deal with a lot of talking but, unfortunately, none of the conversations are particularly interesting.  Hotel Artemis may clock in at 94 minutes but it feels considerably longer.  On the plus side, the cast is big and interesting but, on the negative side, nobody really seems to be that invested in their role.  It’s fun to watch Charlie Day play a bad guy but otherwise, the majority of the actors struggle with their thinly drawn (though certainly verbose) characters.  The majority of them struggle to convince us that they’re anything more than a group of talented actors slumming it in an action movie.  The fact that Jodie Foster received a good deal of praise for her performance in this film has everything to do with the fact that she’s Jodie Foster and little to do with anything that actually happens in the movie.

On a positive note, the movie looks great.  Visually, the Hotel Artemis is a fantastic creation that combines the decaying luxury of The Shining with the claustrophobic sterility of an underground bunker in a Romero zombie film.  (I’m thinking of the original Day of the Dead in particular.)  The Hotel itself is so fascinating that you can’t help but kinda resent that the film seems to be more interested in the boring people inside of the building than with the building itself.

Despite the superior production design, the film itself is slackly paced and never quite as a clever as it seems to think that it is.  Hotel Artemis is not a terrible film but it is a rather forgettable one.  It’s hard not to feel that it could and should have been a hundred times better than it actually was.

Star Trek Beyond Looks Much Faster and More Furious


Star Trek Beyond

J.J. Abrams reinvigorated the Star Trek film franchise when he did a sort of sort-reboot in 2009. It brought the franchise into the consciousness of a younger demographic who didn’t grow up as fans of the franchise both in film and the many tv series. The film was a success and Paramount made sure to strike while it was still hot and greenlit a sequel that looked to build on the strong foundation set-up by J.J. Abrams.

2013 saw that sequel come out and to say that it underwhelmed and burned much of the goodwill created with the 2009 film would be an understatement. Star Trek Into Darkness (a title derided the moment it was announced) literally took the “darkness” part of the title and ramped it up to 11. There wasn’t any of the fun and adventurous nature of the first film. It didn’t help that screenwriter’s Robert Orci’s 9/11 Truther ideology seeped into the film’s plot.

When it was announced that Robert Orci would end up directing the third film after J.J. Abrams went to go direct the latest Star Wars film, the outcry was loud and clear. Orci was a bad choice and just keeping him on would just sink a film franchise already teetering on the brink of becoming irrelevant in a blockbuster environment where superhero universes and the original blockbuster universe reigned supreme.

So, it was with some relief and cautious optimism when Paramount dumped Orci and went with Justin Lin (hot off the massive success of Fast & Furious 6) and rewrites by Simon Pegg. The franchise was going to get the fun back into the series and everyone was invited. Even the chosen title, Star Trek Beyond, spoke to a creative team who saw a chance to bring back the franchise from just being part of a fandom but for those who wouldn’t know a dilithium crystal from a Sith Lord.

The first teaser shows the fun part of what Justin Lin and Simon Pegg have been talking about. Now, will the next trailer show a much more dramatic side to the events fans are hoping will balance all the fun.

Star Trek Beyond looks to land on July 22, 2016.

Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters : “Star Trek Into Darkness”


StarTrekIntoDarknessEnterprisePoster

There are those who have argued online — and in print, as well, I’d imagine — that once you cross the invisible threshold from merely “liking” a recurring or serialized entertainment property/artistic venture (I’ll leave you, dear reader, to decide which of those categories the Star Trek franchise falls into) into becoming a full-fledged “fan” of it that you’re basically fucked, because while “liking” something means you appreciate it for what it does, being a “fan” of it means you like it for what it’s already done, and are quite happy to just have the folks behind it serve you up more of the same. Hell, you might even get pretty upset if they don’t!

I’m not sure I’m willing to go so far as to agree with that sentiment in its entirety — many fans of various works of genre entertainment actually appreciate being offered something new and unique on occasion, in my experience — it certainly applies to a very large segment of most of the various fandoms out there. You know the kind of folks I’m talking about — those who get worked into a mouth-foaming frenzy at the slightest changes or tonal shifts in a given installment of the film, TV, novel, or comic book series and feel the need to shout about what a “blasphemy” has taken place at the top of either their lungs or, as is more often the case these days with computer keyboards and such, fingertips. It gets pretty old pretty fast and I’ve learned to tune most of it out, but anyone who denies the existence of fans such as these is flat-out delusional — the more level-headed among us might like to ignore them, sure, but we can’t admit that they don’t exist. At least not with a straight face.

My point here being, you rightly ask? Uber-conservative fans such as this are bound to be happy with Star Trek Into Darkness (there’s no colon in the title, I checked), J.J. Abrams’ second foray into Gene Rodenberry’s venerable sci-fi universe, because, despite all its superficial “differences” to what has come before, this is really just more of the same.

Which isn’t my half-hearted and/or half-assed way of saying it’s a bad flick — all in all it’s reasonably well-executed and keeps the average audience member more or less interested throughout — it’s just that we’ve seen more or less all of this done before, and unlike with his first go-round, this time Abrams doesn’t even really expend any effort into tricking you into believing (at least on first viewing) that you’re witnessing some bold new take on things here.

And that should suit the stick-in-the-mud types just fine, I would think, since these are folks who go beyond simply being able to see the creaks and joins in a given structure and actually and actively like seeing them, pointing them out, and analyzing them ad nauseum.  In short, I think these people are gonna absolutely love the fact that this film’s big, supposedly-emotionally-resonant “turning point” is just a mirror-image inversion of the same exact scene in Star Trek II : The Wrath Of Khan. They’ll probably also enjoy the fact that, for all their supposed “added depth,” characters like Simon Pegg’s Scotty and Zoe Saldana’s Uhura are still essentially one-dimensional ciphers who just have a few more lines now, and that Karl Urban’s Dr. “Bones” McCoy still speaks in nothing but utterly predictable one-liners rather than , you know, actual, honest-to-goodness dialogue. And I think they’ll also dig the fact that Abrams has quickly established recurrent patterns of his own here — gotta have a Leonard Nimoy cameo, gotta have at least one hot-chick-in-underwear scene, etc.

No doubt about it — if you’re one of these “don’t rock the boat too much or I’m really gonna bitch about it” types of fans, Star Trek Into Darkness  is bound to be right up your alley. In fact, it’s probably likely to make you feel pretty clever, as well, since you’ll be utterly convinced that the poor schmuck in the seat next to you isn’t going to see this movie’s “big revelations” coming.

Guess what, though? He (or she) probably is, since it only takes the most minimal amount of working knowledge of Star Trek lore to have a pretty solid guess as to the real identity of Benedict Cumberbatch’s pseudonymous “John Harrison” villain, the way things are bound to play out once Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk leads leads his crew — uhmmmm — “into darkness” is essentially a foregone conclusion, and shit, your “this guy’s bound to die” radar is guaranteed to be  ringing at top volume from the get-go in relation to one of the story’s semi-principal characters (the oldest Trek trick in the book).

Again, none of which is to say this is in any way an actively bad film — the main cast all acquit themselves pretty well, especially Zachary Quinto as Spock, the CGI effects are uniformly just fine (heck, they always are these days), and the principal narrative is by and large plenty entertaining enough.  It’s just a thoroughly predictable one. If you’re in the mood to kick back, shut your brain off, and just sit through a fairly standard Star Trek romp, this’ll do the job just fine. Just don’t go in expecting anything more — or at the very least anything other — than that.

I have no idea where the Trek franchise is headed from here. Abrams has, as everyone knows, recently been handed the reigns over on Star Wars, as well, so whether or not he intends to do both I couldn’t say. It sounds to me like it would be an awful lot of work  to juggle them both, and maybe now would be a good time to walk away from this one and pass the buck  to somebody else. He’s clearly out of ideas here, anyway, so it wouldn’t be too big a loss.

One last time now, in unison — which is not me saying that this sucked ! It’s just an acknowledgement that it only took two films for the “new” Star Trek to become as safe and stagnant as the “old” version and that a genuinely fresh take on things might be for the best going forward.

Trailer: Star Trek Into Darkness (International)


StarTrekIntoDarkness

Less than two months remain before the sequel to J.J. Abrams surprise reboot hit of Star Trek arrives in the theaters this summer. It’s set to be one of this summer’s tentpole event films and this later trailer looks to set to prove that to be true.

While the first two trailers went light on the main narrative of the sequel this international trailer looks to really focus on Benedict Cumberbatch’s character who is either going to be this Star Trek alternate timeline’s Khan or Gary Mitchell or an amalgam of the two. Either way the trailer is all about action and Sherlock-Smaug looking, talking and acting all superior evil towards Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew.

Star Trek Into Darkness is set for a May 17, 2013 release date.

Trailer: Star Trek Into Darkness (Super Bowl Exclusive)


StarTrekIntoDarkness

The sequel to J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek is just months away. It returns not just Abrams into the director’s chair but also the whole cast of the rebooted franchise back to boldly go where no one’s gone before.

Star Trek Into Darkness (still an awkward title but then we don’t to watch a film in the theaters because we like or don’t like how the title sounds) just released it’s latest trailer (this time a TV spot) during Super Bowl XLVII. The spot has new scenes and images that the previous teasers and trailers didn’t already show. We may have gotten a hint into the villain portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film. While the name Khan has never been mentioned in any ad and marketing spots since the film was announced I’d be very surprised if the villain is not some sort of analogue of that classic Star Trek rogue.

Star Trek Into Darkness is set for a May 17, 2013 release date.

Source: Joblo Movie Network

Trailer: Star Trek Into Darkness (Official Trailer)


StarTrekIntoDarkness

Over ten days ago we saw the release of the teaser trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness. This sequel by J.J. Abrams for the reboot of the storied scifi franchise looks to be one of the most-anticipated films of 2013 (if the world doesn’t end in a couple days of this posting that is). Today we get the release of the official trailer which adds in a couple of new scenes and images not included in the teaser.

Again there’s some debate as to which villain Benedict Cumberbatch is really portraying despite being listed in the cast as the character of John Harrison. The even money bet is that he plays a version of Kirk’s archenemy Khan Noonien Singh which is a strong possibility since the early draft for the Khan character was suppose to be a Nordic superhuman by the name of John Ericssen. Even Abrams himself has never said outright that he would never use the Khan character as the villain in this rebooted franchise. Whether he uses the classic Trek villain in this sequel or the next should get an answer as we get closer to the film’s release date.

Star Trek Into Darkess has a release date of May 17, 2013.

Trailer: Star Trek into Darkness (Official Teaser)


StarTrekIntoDarkness

I’m not too overly fond of the title J.J. Abrams came up for the sequel to his 2009 blockbuster hit, Star Trek, but I will still admit that I’m eagerly anticipating this follow-up despite the title.

Star Trek Into Darkess still has months to go before it makes it’s premiere on the big-screen but it’s already one of the most-anticipated film for 2013. One of the things people have been very curious about the film and it’s tightly held storyline is just who exactly the villain is that Benedict Cumberbatch plays. Some have said it’s the classic Trek villain Khan and others say it’s a brand new character with Khan-traits.

If the film builds on the success and quality of the first film then it doesn’t matter who the villain is. Now the next question is whether Abrams has added more or less lensflare in this next film of his.

Star Trek into Darkness has a tentative release date of May 17, 2013.