Movie review: Star Trek Beyond

Movie reviews

Hello Hello Hello!

Welcome to another blockbuster review of this summer! This time, we’re talking about a film which I was really excited about and couldn’t wait to see – Star Trek Beyond! So, let’s go!

IMDb summary: The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

Star Trek Reboot

I am not familiar with the original Star Trek films or the various TV shows, however, I have seen the rebooted movie and its sequel numerous times and absolutely loved it. I even think that Star Trek was the first space-opera type of a franchise that I fell in love with – yes, that means that Star Wars came in 2nd. I might not know all the references and Easter Eggs but I don’t think that you need that knowledge to enjoy the new movies. J.J.Abrams’s direction for franchise made it extremely accessible. I kinda wished that Abrams would have returned to direct the 3rd film, but I kept an open mind and really wanted to see what would Justin Lin do with the property. The casting choices, since the first film in 2009 were also great. I was really happy to find out that Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella joined the cast for Beyond.

SPOILERS AHEAD 

Writing

Star Trek Beyond was written by a TV scriptwriter Doug Jung and a member of U.S.S. Enterprise crew himself – Simon Pegg a.k.a Montgomery Scott. Pegg has some writing experience – he co-wrote Edgar Wright’s Ice Cream Trilogy – Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy also know as the satirical look at British life or the best comedic franchise ever. Overall, I did enjoy the story of Beyond and loved the different aspects of it, especially the jokes. However, some ideas seemed really cliche.

Things I loved:

  1. The expansion of the universe – we got to see some more species of aliens and actually explored the deep space. We also got to see a new(old) ship and a new station.
  2. The references to the original continuity in the death of Ambassador Spock and that photo of the original cast.
  3. The fact that they had the guts to completely destroy the U.S.S. Enterprise – one of two most recognizable fictional ships in the world, other being the Millennium Falcon – in the first act.
  4. The villain with some genuine character development – Elba’s character had an actual motive to be angry at Federation. He also seemed pretty scary and efficient with that life-prolonging technology. I also liked the concept that his character introduced into the film – people born during the times of war will never be calm during peace.
  5. The different pairs of characters: Kirk and Chekov, Uhura and Sulu, Spock and Bones, and Scotty and newly introduced Jaylah – the ending suggests that we will see more of her and I can’t wait to get more of her backstory. Bones’s and Spock’s duo was my favorite pair – loved their back and forth banter that was actually quite serious (‘ Fear of death is illogical. Fear of death is what keeps us alive.’) and the jokes (‘You gave her radioactive jewelry?’).
  6. The main idea of the film – strength comes from unity – was also nice, but, sadly, it sounds kinda ironical in today’s world.
  7. The dedications at the end. I liked that they dedicated the film to both Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin and I also liked the different forms of dedication. Nimoy’s mention seemed official, so as to show respect for his long career and to acknowledge his importance to the Star Trek lore, while Yelchin’s dedication was more friend-like and simple, yet equally emotional.

Things that could have been improved:

  1. Beyond villain’s plan was very similar/ exactly the same as the plan of the Admiral in Into Darkness – they both wanted to start a war.
  2. The tiny ships acted liked bees and resembled a cloud – while it definitely looked cool it has been done numerous times and felt too repetitive.
  3. The solution how to destroy the bee ships with musical frequencies was kinda cheesy. However, Star Trek used to be a much less serious and more camp-y franchise in the previous century, so maybe it was a nod to that.

In general, I feel that Beyond had the simplest story of the new franchise because it didn’t create an alternative universe, like the 1st film did, or dealt with iconic characters, like Khan (2nd film). At the same time, it was a fine story on its own and, while some of the developments were kinda cliche, the others were really neat and unpredictable. However, if this narrative was done outside of the Star Trek brand, I don’t think that it would have turned out as good as this one did.

Directing

Justin Lin, of the Fast and the Furious franchise, directed the film and did a good job. Although, I did miss Abrams’s lens flares, I really liked the visuals that Lin created for Beyond. I loved the massive scale of the deep space and the architecture of Yorktown. The action was also exciting and energetic. As I have said, the tiny ships did look cool and were efficient in their job. The space CGI was breathtaking and flawless, but a few sequences of the ground could have been improved a bit more. Some of the motorcycle shots looked really fake. The ending montage, which showed the Enterprise being rebuild, accompanied with the traditional monolog, delivered by the whole crew, was a really nice way to end the picture. I would like to praise the make-up department for impeccable prosthetics for Elba’s character. The design of Boutella’s character was really cool as well but I wished it looked more alien because now she kinda seemed like a human with white and black foundation.

Acting

The whole cast did an amazing job. Chris Pine (Jack Rayn, Z for Zachariah, Into the Woods, The Finest Hours) shined once again as Captain James T. Kirk, can’t wait to see him in Wonder Woman since the comic-con trailer looks awesome. Zachary Quinto (Hitman) was perfectly logical with some tiny burst of emotion as Commander Spock, later this year he will appear in SnowdenKarl Urban (LOTR, Dredd ) was great as Lieutenant Commander Leonard McCoy, MD, and I’m looking forward to Urban joining the MCU.

Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy) appeared as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, while Simon Pegg (Mission Impossible films) portrayed the Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott and both delivered nice performances. John Cho was amazing Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu and had quite an important supporting role, which I enjoyed. Seeing Anton Yelchin as annoying yet sweet Pavel Chekov was a really bittersweet moment. His sudden passing really shocked me and made me appreciate life a bit more.

The newcomers: Idris Elba (Prometheus, MCU, Zootopia, The Jungle Book, Bastille DayBeasts of No Nation) as Krall and Sofia Boutella (Kingsman, upcoming The Mummy reboot) as Jaylah were also good. Elba was believable and threatening as a villain, while the inclusion of Boutella’s character opened a lot of possibilities.

In short, Star Trek Beyond was simple, yet fun and exciting addition to the Star Trek universe. The acting was great, the action exciting and the writing – amazing for the most part. I definitely recommend it to all the nerds who read my blog.

Rate: 4/5

Trailer: Star Trek Beyond

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5 ideas about a movie: The Neon Demon

Movie reviews

Hello!

Nowadays, the majority of wide theatrical releases are mainstream films, so, whenever I get a chance to see a more experimental motion picture, I take it! Thus, without further ado, let me tell you about The Neon Demon.

IMDb summary: When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.

  1. The Neon Demon is sort of a horror film. I, personally,  don’t really watch any horror movies. However, this one intrigued me because it wasn’t just a straight up mainstream horror flick with jump scares and ghosts. It had elements of psychological drama and thriller. Moreover, it was created by a very artsy indie director Nicolas Winding Refn. I loved Winding Refn’s Drive and I also kinda enjoyed his other film with Ryan Gosling – Only God Forgives. The Neon Demon also explored the world that I’m interested in – the fashion business. The previous films about fashion that I have seen were all very light – Zoolander 1 and 2, The Devil Wears Prada and Confessions of a Shopaholic. On the contrary, The Neon Demon was unapologetically dark. While overall I enjoyed the movie, I also had some problems with it. Basically, I thought that it was visually rich, but lacked substance and was narratively hollow.
  2. Visuals: the director Nicolas Winding Refn is know for beautiful visuals, so it is no surprise that The Neon Demon was a stunning film to look at. Half of the praises should go to Natasha Braier, for her amazing cinematography. If you freeze any frame of the film, you would get an amazing photograph. All of the manipulation of lights, colors and geometrical shapes was remarkable. The slow motion and the close-ups really fit with the slow pace of the film as well. The picture has quite a few bloody scenes, especially near the end, so be aware if that bothers you.
  3. Narrative: the film was written by the director, the screenwriter Mary Laws and the playwright Polly Stenham. I felt that the writing was the weakest part of the film. The main character – the innocent girl from a small town that comes to the city to become a model – was such a cliche. Her transition from innocence to confidence was way too quick as well. All of the faults of the fashion industry were also really predictable. The portrayal of men as sexual predators and the depiction of women as vain and jealous individuals were both stereotypical choices.The film also missed a few plot opportunities. Keanu Reeves’s character appeared in 3 scenes and then disappeared. The over-the-top ending didn’t help the film either.
  4. A few ideas of the story that I liked were the fact that beauty can make money and that beauty has an expiration date. These concepts weren’t really that original but I appreciated their inclusion and depiction. The movie also had quite a lot of symbolism. For me, some of the symbols worked, some didn’t. The symbol of mirrors was cool, but the scene with the cougar kinda went over my head when I first saw the film. The soundtrack by Cliff Martinez was pretty neat too – I liked the inclusion of Sia’s song Waving Goodbye. In general, the whole film felt very much controlled, maybe even strained and over-constructed. There wasn’t really anything organic or natural about it, but I guess the fashion world is really artificial, so the movie set in that world should give off a feeling of fakeness and manufacture.
  5. Acting: I enjoyed the majority of the performances. The conversations between the characters seemed a bit awkward at times but I think that they were intentionally awkward – those scenes were uncomfortable to watch and one must never feel comfortable when watching a more experimental film. Speaking of the actors: Elle Fanning (Maleficent, Super 8) was okay as Jesse. I feel that the lack of originality in the writing for the lead character ruined Fanning’s execution a bit. Karl Glusman was good as Dean – the most normal character of the picture. Jena Malone (The Hunger Games and BvS Ultimate Edition) as Ruby was an absolute scene stealer and really went all the way in this role. Her sex-scene was more than disturbing. Bella Heathcote (Dark ShadowsPride and Prejudice and Zombiesas Gigi was good as well, but I though that model Abbey Lee (Mad Max Fury Road) as Sarah kinda stole all her scenes. Keanu Reeves had a few scenes as Hank and I, personally, thought that anybody could have played his part. Lastly, Desmond Harrington as Jack  was a believable sort of artsy and kinda shady photgrapher.

In short, The Neon Demon was/is defintely an experimental film. It is not easy to watch and might be considered an unsuccessful experiment by the majority of the mainstream audiences. I did enjoy it but kinda had to make myself sit through it at first. Visually, it is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, while plot-wise it could have been more refined and more sophisticated. If you want to try any of Winding Refn’s films, I suggest you start with Drive, as it is the most accessible one. Maybe leave The Neon Demon and Only God Forgives for some other time. I also want to check out his Bronson film, as it stars my favorite actor – Tom Hardy.

Rate: 3.25/5

Trailer: The Neon Demon trailer

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Loreen concert

Music

Hello!

Welcome to another blog post covering the topic of live music! I will link all the similar post down bellow but now, let’s get on with my latest musical experience!

On Friday night (24th of April), I went to Swedish singer’s Loreen concert in my native city of Kaunas. Loreen isn’t a huge global start, I believe that European audiences are more well antiquated with her than the rest of the world. The reason for this is the fact that Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest 3 years ago – in 2012 and since Eurovision isn’t really popular anywhere outside of Europe (well, maybe except Australia), consequently, Loreen isn’t poplar internationally too.

I’ve never really listened to her music much. I knew only her Eurovison winning song Euphoria by heart because I and my girlfriends used to sing it on road trips but that was pretty much it. She had a hit in my country called We Got the Power but I, personally, didn’t listen to it much. However, since the tickets to her concert were quite cheap (definitely the cheapest ones out of every concert I’ve ever attended), I decided to give her music another chance.

Before going to the live show, I’ve listened to her album Heal from 2013 a couple of times and really enjoyed a few songs. These would be Crying Out Your Name, Every time and Breaking Robot. She also released a single Paper-light in 2014 and the revisited version of it in 2015 – I enjoyed that one quite a lot too!

Anyway, enough of me rambling about stuff that nobody cares about. How was the concert? IT WAS AMAZING. Her voice is magical! I have never heard any singer sound so good while singing live. Her voice is so strong and the things she could do with it: go high, drop low and then go back to high again. Her stage presence is also unbelievable: she dances, jumps, goes crazy and completely frees herself and still manages to communicate with the crowd and find connection with the every single member of the audience. Her energy is contagious!!

I was standing in a front row, so I had a perfect view of the stage! Only around 3000 people were attending the concert, though, when she came out on stage for the 3rd time to sing Euphoria one more time, the first few rows, consisting mainly of young adults, were screaming  and singing so loudly that it sounded like at least 5000 people were in attendance.

I am really happy that I chose to attend her concert ! I had a wonderful time and would definitely be present at her concert again. Videos from the show: my favorite song – Crying Out Your Name and Eurovision winner – Euphoria (2nd performance of it).

Oh, one last note: the opening act of the show was Lithuanian singer Vaidas Baumila. I am not a fan of his because I don’t listen to practically any Lithuanian singers but his warm-up act was quote nice. Moreover, Baumila will represent Lithuania in this year’s Eurovision so it was only appropriate that he would open for Loreen.

Bellow you will find a few photos from the event taken by me!

Bye!

My concert coverage: Kylie Minogue | OneRepublic | Enrique Iglesias | Ed Sheeran | Eurovision 2014 

              

Ed Sheeran concert| Vilnius Siemens Arena, Lithuania| February 15th, 2015

Music

Hi!

I feel like I am starting all of my blog posts with an apology. Yes, I said I would blog daily and failed again. Yes, I’m sorry. Yes, I will try to fix my time management issues and will post more. Someday. Anyway, let’s move on, shall we?

So, last Sunday (February 15th), I traveled to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, once again to attend another concert! This time I went to Ed Sheeran’s acoustic performance! The only acoustic show I have ever been to before this one was Lana Del Rey’s concert a few years ago. I had a great time back then and even better time now!

A couple of hours before the arena was due to open its doors, there had already been a massive line of people! I came at around 5 pm., the doors opened at 6.30 pm and the concert started at about 7.30 pm. I usually stand much closer to the stage than at Ed’s concert. I guess he has bigger fans than me;) although, I still stood in line for almost 2 hours, then for 2 hours inside the venue and for almost 3 hours during the live performance. Best workout ever.

But back to the concert: firstly, Ryan Keen took to the stage to open the show. His songs were really nice and interested me to get to know more about him. Ryan communicated with the crowd nicely too. I especially liked his last song, the cover of Bruno Mars’s Uptown Funk (I have a personal connection to this song because it brings warm memories of my senior prom). Video of the performance.

At around 9pm Ed Sheeran started his set-list. I don’t know how can he sound better live than when recorded.! Ed sang both his older hits from + and newest songs from X. He also did Stevie Wonder’s and Iggy Azalea’s covers. Talk about versatility!
Probably my favorite song of his is Drunk (video of the performance). But I also love Sing, I See Fire (I also love The Hobbit series and that song was featured in the movie), One, and The Lego House (video).

I was quite sad that he didn’t perform All of the Stars from TFIOS. Nonetheless, I had a superb time and would definitely like to attend his concert one more time in the future.

Of course, I bought a poster to commemorate this event on my bedroom walls. Picture of it bellow:

IMG_3658Next concert I am thinking about attending is Swedish singer’s and 2012 Eurovision winner’s Loreen concert in my hometown during the month of April. Until next time. Bye!

P.S. Posts about my other concert experiences: Kylie Minogue| OneRepublic| Enrique Iglesias

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